BAGHDAD — Spc. Grover Gebhart has spent nine months at a small post on a Sunni-Shiite fault line in western Baghdad. But the 21-year-old soldier on his first tour in Iraq feels he's missing the real war — in Afghanistan, where his brother is fighting the Taliban.
With violence in Iraq at its lowest level in four years and the war in Afghanistan at a peak, the soldiers serving at patrol station Maverick say Gebhart's view is increasingly common, especially among younger soldiers looking to prove themselves in battle.
"I've heard it a lot since I got here," said 2nd Lt. Karl Kuechenmeister, a 2007 West Point graduate who arrived in Iraq about a week ago.
Soldiers who have experienced combat stress note that it is usually young soldiers on their first tour who most want to get on the battlefield. They say it is hard to communicate the horrors of war to those who haven't actually experienced it.
"These kids are just being young," said Sgt. Christopher Janis, who is only 23 but is on his third tour in Iraq. "They say they want to get into battle until they do, and then they won't want it anymore."
That soldiers are looking elsewhere for a battle is a testament to how much Iraq has changed from a year ago, when violence was at its height. Now it's the lowest in four years, thanks to the U.S. troop surge, the turn by former Sunni insurgents against al-Qaida in Iraq, and Iraqi government crackdowns on Shiite militias.
La violència a l’Iraq s’ha reduït un 90% en un any i en aquest temps Al Qaeda ha estat derrotada militarment i política. Dels 18 objectius marcats per l’administració Bush se’n han assolit 15.