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Last Updated:  Saturday, 29 March, 2003, 18:53 GMT
E-mail lifeline for war relatives
Families of the US forces fighting in Iraq are keeping in touch via e-mail.

Crew on board the USS Constellation
Crew on board the USS Constellation look forward to e-mails
Technological advances have transformed the way the Iraq conflict is viewed, allowing journalists to accompany troops in action inside Iraq and providing a myriad of news sources for people back home.

And e-mail is offering some comfort to families desperate for news of their loved ones in the armed forces.

Improved communication has allowed almost daily contact with relatives on the front line.

Keeping up morale

Families of the crew of the USS Constellation can dial the so-called sailor phone for a daily update of the ship's activities in the Persian Gulf.

Amy Matthews bought a new computer two days after the war began in order to keep up to date with her husband, Sergeant Ronnie Matthews, a marine on board USS Tarawa.

To be able to keep in contact - that's what makes the time go by quicker
Amy Matthews, wife of US marine
She has been sending him around six e-mails each day.

"He always just asks what's going on at home, are the kids ok, are the babies getting bigger and if I don't e-mail him he freaks out," said Mrs Matthews.

There can be a negative side to such freedom to communicate and the US Navy is keen to stress that families back home help keep up morale.

"We really emphasise e-mail etiquette," said Tammy Moroe, who runs a campaign called "He Said, She Read" for service families based in San Diego, California.

"We want the sailors out there concentrating on their job for their safety. We encourage families not to keep things from sailors but maybe tell them after it's been resolved," she added.

For families back home, computer screens are left constantly on waiting for the reassurance of a new mail.

"To be able to keep in contact - that's what makes the time go by quicker," said Mrs Matthews.

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