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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
Iraq: Two sides of the same coin

Is the continuing US occupation of Iraq helping the country or causing the people pain? Panorama asked two senior US soldiers in Iraq for their views - and got two very different opinions.

Major Matthew Jennings
Major Jennings has watched joy turn to anger amongst Iraqis

Major Jennings is a professional soldier with the 82nd Airbone Division and has 12 years experience in the US army. He wrote this piece for the Panorama website to sum up his feelings about the occupation of Iraq.

War changes us immensely. Not just as a world community but individually as well.

As a frontline physician in combat, I have faced many challenges and my own fears.

I have placed young men, ones with dreams and families, in body bags. I have cared for the wounded, coalition and enemy soldiers as well as civilians, many being children younger than my own.

I have witnessed the struggle of the people of Baghdad and my own soldiers while we waited for the promised help from my coalition leaders.

Post-war chaos

I see their pain and realise that at this time I am part of their pain
Major Matthew Jennings
I have suffered with the Iraqi people through the heat of a Middle East summer without electricity or adequate water supplies.

I have watched the Iraqi people's faces turn from joy to anger, welcome to reflection, all while still trying to keep their hospitals open and provide care for their orphans.

I came into this war hoping to rid the world of an evil man, Saddam Hussein. Once accomplished, I now find myself confined and surrounded by the post-war chaos and anger of a people without direction and begging for leadership. I see their pain and realise that at this time I am part of their pain.

My story is not about the triumph of victory, but the shared frustration and suffering of two peoples trapped in the uncertain future after a war.

Major Scott Patton
"We did the right thing," says Major Patton

Major Patton is the head of operations for the 4/27th Field Artillery battalion. He told Panorama why he thinks the US and coalition forces are doing a good job.

There's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the United States and the coalition did the right thing.

I talk to Iraqis on the street and you see hands cut off and the horrible things that Saddam Hussein's regime did to these people, you hear about the horrible rapes that his son Uday carried out.

You look at the conditions al Karkh is in [a poor suburb of Baghdad where walls of rubbish were piling up as high as houses] - you know we can't pick up the trash because it's holding up a lot of houses.

I mean this didn't happen because of the Gulf, because of the Operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam Hussein was letting this happen.


We're fixing power generators, fixing transformers, building soccer fields
Major Scott Patton
And he'd been letting it happen for 30 years, so a lot of the problems that you see here in these neighbourhoods weren't a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom, they were the result of a very brutal dictator.

There's no doubt in my mind that the coalition did the right thing and we're doing the right thing now.

It's strange in the fact that we're fighting a low intensity conflict in an urban environment, something that the US army has really not done.

And at the same time we're doing that, we're also fixing power generators, fixing transformers, building soccer fields, standing up freely elected neighbourhood councils for the first time.

It's amazing what these young men and women are doing... It just makes you very proud just to be a part of that team.

Panorama: The Price of Victory will be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 28 September, 2003 at 2215 BST.

The Price of Victory
10 Sep 03  |  Panorama
'An occupation cannot last'
26 Sep 03  |  Panorama
Iraq: Two sides of the same coin
25 Sep 03  |  Panorama
Your comments
25 Sep 03  |  Panorama

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