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

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Pope AFB troops deploy to the Persian Gulf.
FAYETTEVILLE — Military troops are again on their way toKuwait, but this visit won't be as long as previous assignments. In aneffort to boost morale, the military is shortening the length of the stayoverseas.

The main reason the Air Force is shortening the stay is to try to cutdown on long deployments. Many of the men and women who left Fridaymorning have been going back and forth to the still very unstable PersianGulf for several years.

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

Many of the Pope Airmen who left Friday had just returned from thePersian Gulf a few months before. Airman First Class Donna Miller of the75th Fighter Squadron says the rotations are stressful.

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

The airmen from Pope will only stay in the area 45 days as opposed tothe normal 90 day rotation. Tech Sergeant Ricky Smith says it helps thefamilies 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 anunstable region of the world with hopes of returning home in time forChristmas. That's the best news for the departing airmen -- that althoughthey will miss Thanksgiving they're expected to be backin the states in time for Christmas.

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

Photographer:Mike Joyner

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