Local News

Pope AFB Troops Sent to Kuwait Again, But Not...

Posted October 24, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Military troops are again on their way to Kuwait, but this visit won't be as long as previous assignments. In an effort to boost morale, the military is shortening the length of the stay overseas.

The main reason the Air Force is shortening the stay is to try to cut down on long deployments. Many of the men and women who left Friday morning have been going back and forth to the still very unstable Persian Gulf for several years.

Just last week Iraq violated the no fly zone, which makes deployments to the area even more stressful.

Many of the Pope Airmen who left Friday had just returned from the Persian Gulf a few months before. Airman First Class Donna Miller of the 75th Fighter Squadron says the rotations are stressful.

The shortened deployment is part of a military policy to do more with less. The military is shrinking in numbers yet its presence is needed in areas like the Persian Gulf where these airmen will enforce the no-fly zones. Captain Shane Wilkerson says there is always trouble nearby.

The airmen from Pope will only stay in the area 45 days as opposed to the normal 90 day rotation. Tech Sergeant Ricky Smith says it helps the families when troops get home before the holidays.

Wilkerson says morale is improved with the shortened stay.

For now the Airmen say their focus is on ensuring safety in an unstable region of the world with hopes of returning home in time for Christmas. That's the best news for the departing airmen -- that although they will miss Thanksgiving they're expected to be back in the states in time for Christmas.

The group that will replace them is expected to leave about five days before Christmas.

Photographer:Mike Joyner