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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 16:40 GMT
Friendliness and fear on tour in Iraq
Alex Preece
Alex Preece hopes his Army experience will help him in business
Alex Preece wrote to the BBC News website about his time as a British soldier in Iraq. He wanted a chance to describe what it was really like.

Read a selection of your comments on this story below:


Absolutely wonderful to hear from a well adjusted young man and ex soldier. thank you.
S A, England

What a wonderful story and my heartfelt thanks go to Alex for telling his story. So much negative press has been made in connection to British service men and women who have served in Iraq, it is a pleasure to read positive things of the work being done there. I am a father of two who have also served in Iraq, they told of similar stories of help and togetherness. They also had stories that made your hair curl. They felt that they made a positive difference to the lives of ordinary Iraqis. I am proud to say that my eldest son is a serving member of KRH regiment and my middle son is serving member of the RAF Firefighter Section. Thanks Alex, I wish you all the very best in your new career and am sure you will make a success of it as you did with your army career.
Tony Westwell, Vienna, Austria

This is a tender story of one young man, with today's civil war in Iraq he is a wee bit out of the time frame lets have some up to date views from the troops.
Mark Williams, Thornfield, Mo. USA

Alex was lucky in as much his training at Harrogate would have prepared him for the life he was to lead. British training of soldiers is the best in the world. Having done two tours as an instructor at Harrogate I can assure you he would agree. Good Luck to you in you new project Alex
Kenneth Coker, Harrogate

Thanking BBC for allowing this PR exercise for continuing the immoral war on an innocent people and sacrifice our children on the alter of patriotism
Thruthunter, London, UK

Good on Alex for making a difference to the Iraqi people. It is a shame the same cant be said for all his colleagues isn't it? His brothers in arms are giving the rest of them a bad name to say the least.
Dan, Kent

Good for Alex. He, as most in the forces, are good people that put their lives on the line for what their political masters think is worthwhile. Iraq, as we know, was invaded under false pretences. I am sure the army is doing good things, but this should be no excuse to try and bury the truth about why the invasion was ordered initially.
Robbie, Scotland

Well done, Alex Preece. At last someone who has actually got sand between his toes has told the BBC how things actually are in country. The average British squaddie in Iraq has achieved more for the welfare of its people than all the stay-behind compassion merchants in politics and the media.
Taff Hughes, Swindon

I was in iraq during 2003 and even then some of the media failed to support the troops. Its about time people started supporting the men and women out there instead of always putting them down. The negative stories just make the job harder.
Mark , West Midlands uk

I'm glad to see a positive report regarding British troops in Iraq but I am also glad that we do see reports on the negative aspects of the deployment. It is vital that both sides are properly reported without bias. Those that say that the press is wrong to report things like alleged abuse because it could make life more dangerous for the soldiers out there need to remember events such as My Lai in Vietnam. Should this have been covered up for the same reason? It all needs to be reported, good and bad.
Alex, UK

It was really nice to read this piece of writing. My brother has completed 2 tours of Iraq with the Black Watch and it's depressing sometimes to hear some peoples opinions of the British Forces. Thank you Alex for writing about what it's actually like for the forces out there. Good luck for the future.
Leanne, UK

This may be hard for many to hear but even though I hope for the safe return of everyone possible from our armed forces I cannot and will not support them being where they are or any of the proven abuses by a small minority of the military Full Stop. Maybe next time our prime minister will think twice before he sends people to die for a lie.
Adam

As a serving soldier it is good to see Alex' comments, I too have served in Iraq and other theatres,and totally agree with his comments, however is it sad to see so many others suspicions and comments about how soldiers are 'a collective' please don't tar the majority with the actions of the few - I am sure that there are horrid people where you live, and that you even work with - I don't assume you are just like them. Please don't do the same to us.
Kathy, Oxford

Well-done on this story. The media does sensationalise the violence because it's easy to report. It's just like the nightly news on local TV stations here, nothing but stories of car crashes and police chases because they get these reports from police departments with minimal journalistic work. And meanwhile people don't have a clue what's going on in city hall. I'd like to read more soldiers' blogs.
Jeremy, Atlanta, USA

Keep those heads in the sand everybody. Well done BBC for promoting more sinister mendacious propaganda about the unprovoked invasion and occupation of a sovereign state.
Tim S, London

I read this piece to gain an insight into the war in Iraq from a soldiers point of view. My brother is going in April and I am very nervous. I don't want to be the only child should the worst happen. I don't want to refer to my brother in the past tense. I am scared. I have travelled to the middle east before with charities and I know the people are very friendly and it is only a few extremists who make the war. What I am very passionate about is ensuring people do not make quick judgements about our soldiers. They are trained to do a job and they choose to do that. If it wasn't them out there it may be us and we HAVE to have an army - so I am grateful. I strongly suggest that everyone sees the film Jarhead. This made me realise that soldiers have so much psychological baggage to carry and it's not necessarily the stuff we think it is. It's issues we didn't even know existed. I feel very strongly about those who pass judgement on the soldiers without actually knowing what it is like to be a soldier. Thanks for this piece, it's reinforced my confidence.
Kath Austin, Leighton Buzzard

Spot on Alex, the media are always harping on about the death and destruction and other unhappy events but never highlight the good work that people do. The constant drip, drip of scaremongering and highlighting only the negative events is quite obviously having and effect, one only has to read some of the comments in the responses to this story. Good luck in your new venture.
Roger Viggers, Coalbrookdale, England

This is the sort of balanced reporting we want to see. Well done, but can we have some more please?
Alex Cowan, Cambridge, UK

It would be so useful to have his ideas on why the Iraqi's hate the Americans so much. We truly have no idea. Thank you.
Cynthia, USA

It is a shame that more media groups are not prepared to publish positive, rather than negative and inflammatory stories about the current situation in Iraq.Well done the BBC and Alex Preece for allowing us to see things from a different perspective.
William Lawlor, Penarth,Vale of Glamorgan

Unless you've been over there and served, and seen for yourself what's going on, you don't have the full picture. It's a mistake to make assumptions without all the facts.
Matt, Cardiff

as a brit living with Americans for the last two and half years. i have met Iraqi who both like and hate the coalition but where drawn together for hatred of the old regime. I've seen the efforts of the coalition to help the local population here. food aid, water, rebuilding essential services only for them to be blown up by insurgents. yes I have lost friends to the insurgents but the for the future of Iraq is looking good just don't stop the momentum to rebuild this beautiful country, help these people who only want to feed their families, have a job.
C Smith, Baghdad

Thank you BBC for redressing the balance. We should be proud of what British people are doing rebuilding Iraq, whatever the editorial team may believe about the reasons for war. Many thanks
Andrew, Chelmsford

My son is in Iraq and I pray for all of them out there doing a thankless job. Personally I think the media should not give so much coverage to the bad things that happen, sensationalism and too much publicity incites more violence and hatred. If the terrorist leaders were given less publicity they would not be able to use the medium as a weapon to promote their own subversive activities.
Dorothy, Aldershot, UK

Fantastic to hear a positive story about what the British Army is doing in Iraq at last. It must be so demoralising for the people there who are doing an excellent job and putting their lives on the line to see so much negative coverage in the media but presumably the various editorial teams can't see beyond the fact that bad news sells better than good.
Jean Croft, Warsaw, Poland

It's about time the media ran a story like this. There's a lot more to winning the war than just fire-power. We need to be more focussed on the positive side of the reconstruction of Iraq. The risk to our soldiers must surely be greater, if the Iraqi people are against them. One look at American losses will tell you that.
Adam, Ringwood, Hants

Thank you for sharing Alex's story with us. I have a younger brother serving in the UK army and it brings joy to hear about all the positive things that's happening over there. Most of the soldiers go there to help and to uplift Iraq, making it a better place for the locals, and providing them with a brighter future. It makes me proud to know that there is still people who will risk their lives to help others. Thank you- to all off them.
Philip Turnbull, Pretoria, South Africa

This man's experiences are two years old. The situation in Iraq has changed dramatically since he went there in early 2004. You cannot possibly justify presenting this account on your news front page as "what it is [present tense] really like to be on tour in Iraq."
Basher Saied, formerly Iraq now UK

How refreshing it is to hear positive views about Iraq and the way the British Army handles itself. All the more important as it comes from an honest point of view and from someone who, unlike most tabloid journalist's, knows what it's like to serve there. If only there were more stories like this publicised.
Jack Rogers, Aberystwyth, Wales

My grudge isn't with the officers and soldiers of the British Armed forces in Iraq, who often point out that British citizens like myself should do more to express our support. I can't support them and it's not because I'm a traitor. It's due to the simple reason that the military is an extension of political will and the politics behind this war is totally immoral. I don't have anything personal against the individuals who serve in the armed forces but ultimately, it was their choice to join and the resulting dilemma is that, right or wrong, they then become pawns of political will.
Abdul M. Ismail, Liverpool, UK

Spot on Alex for spelling out the real situation in Iraq, I write as a parent who's son was also there. What saddens me about the reporting of the Army out there, is the perennial emphasis on the negative, how can we know at home about the good work that goes on every day, when all we get from the media is either no news or bad news. I suppose it reflects the media's fixation with the principle that good news does not sell!! The British Army is undoubtedly the most highly professional in the world, we should glorify the fact and support them in that and not continually seek to do them down.
Ricardo, Shropshire

Having served in Iraq myself I can see where Alex is coming from, especially having gone through similar experiences. Its good to have a favourable account of life for British soldiers and not what the media like to portray us as. We have done a lot more in rebuilding Iraq in two years than what Saddam did in Twenty. Nice one Alex...
Mark, Cardiff

At last... a real life experience from OUR lads!
Rob, Scotland

Alex's story rings true. I've just read 'Revolt on the Tigris' by Mark Etherington (he ran one of the provinces after the war) and it's the same story. He worked with the Iraqis and made friends; also he had to deal with the Sadr uprising. When it comes to Iraq, our press can't see beyond sensationalism and mindlessly follow the 'Iraq is a disaster' theme.
Jim Baker, Burford, Oxfordshire

Well done, not only to have the courage to go to Iraq, but to speak out on an issue that is apparently swept under the carpet. It is good to see the humanitarian effort that is going on, as well as the fears and hopes of Iraqi people. Good luck and God Bless to all serving soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and other regions of the globe.
Roger Duncan, Northern Ireland

An excellent piece. We need to see the BBC showing the country what it is doing well, where is taking positive action and showing that the people receiving the care and attention appreciate our actions. This would have the effect of making the army's job much safer and do much for race relations in this country.
John Lawrence, Rotherham ,UK

How refreshing to hear a view of someone who's been there and seen what's going on, warts and all. A useful antidote to the 'peace lovers' who would have us all believe that UK presence in Iraq is all about slavish devotion to American interests. It's about making the world a better place, which it wouldn't be if Saddam was still in power. Whatever else he does with his life, Mr Preece has proved his selflessness and courage. What placard-waving protestor can say the same?
Guy Matthews, UK

Any abuses committed by soldiers in Iraq cannot and should not be netted off the good their colleagues are doing or justified by the abuse they receive or the stress they are under. Soldiering, by its very nature, is a collective endeavour. The actions of the few will always undermine (or glorify) the actions of the rest. The action of the individual is the action of the collective.
D Prentice, London, UK

Well done Alex. Our grateful thanks to you, your brother and everyone else serving in the forces in Iraq.
Ian Thompson, Basingstoke, UK

As a former soldier myself I am so glad Mr Preece has done this story for us. I myself know the great things our boys and girls are doing out there for the people of Iraq and its a damn shame the media enjoy making it harder for them to do it. Hats off to you lot doing a fine job..
Gareth, Cardiff

It's very refreshing to see stories telling people of the good being done in Iraq instead of all the negative reporting we get. While I don't agree with the way the war was waged and justified, the principles of freeing people from Saddam Hussein were right. We should support our troops working in extremely difficult conditions, and stop undermining the good they are trying to do.
Simon Mortimer, Telford United Kingdom

Fair enough, if that was Alex Preece's experience, in Iraq. However, it does rather read like one of those 'hearts and mind' articles that regularly cropped up in the Readers Digest 35 years ago. Vietnam. Doesn't seem to me that what is going on out there is just a few troublemakers. Indeed, my impression was that real reporting has ceased, with journalists not really able to venture more than a few yards from the shelter of troop carriers.
Andrew Preston, Axbridge, UK




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