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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 October, 2003, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
US Army's 'fake' letters cause stir
US soldier stands guard in front of Iraqi man
Officials said the letters were sent to give "good news" about US troops in Iraq
A series of letters supposedly written by US troops in Iraq detailing their successes in the country were all written by their commander, it has emerged.

The publication of the letters, in several US newspapers, comes as the Bush administration has stepped up efforts to win over an American public increasingly sceptical of its handling of the situation in Iraq.

Critics said if the letters were found to be part of an organised effort by the military to win over US hearts and minds regarding the conflict it could be a violation of military ethics.

However, the soldiers' commander, Lieutenant Colonel Dominic Caraccilo, told ABC News on Tuesday his staff had written the letters merely to get "good news" back to the US more efficiently.

He says he then sent it round to his soldiers saying they could send a copy home if they wanted to.

"We thought it would be a good idea to encapsulate what we as a battalion have accomplished since arriving Iraq and share that pride with people back home," he said.

'Positive aspect'

The missives detailed the lives of soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Infantry Regiment and their efforts to re-establish law and order in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, where they are based.

I wanted the positive view put out there
Mother of US paratrooper Amy Connell
The soldiers "wrote" of rebuilding police and fire departments and of repairing water and sewer plants in the area.

The letters came to light when some of the soldiers' families sent them to local newspapers.

Editors became suspicious when they noticed the letters had identical phrases even though they were signed by different soldiers.

"After nearly five months here, the people still come running from their homes, into the 110-degree heat, waving to us as our troops drive by on daily patrols of the city," read one line.

One soldier's mother said she knew it was not her son's words as he did not have the linguistic ability.

But Amy Connell told the New York Times she passed the letter - signed by her paratrooper son, Adam - to the Boston Globe newspaper because she was proud of his achievements.

"I wanted the positive view put out there,'' she told the paper.

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