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Albany soldier gives insight into war

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March 19, 2008

It's the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion. The war certainly hasn't gone as planned but President Bush said Wednesday the United States will maintain it's course and victory will come.

The sounds and images of booms and blasts have become a familiar image on television screens over the past few years. But we at home don't really see.

"This is all I've ever wanted to do," said Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ashe.

It's what people like Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ashe hear and see up close on a daily basis. "In my eyes, there was only one thing that I wanted to do and that was to be a soldier," said Ashe.

We sat down with the soldier and Albany native via satellite on this 5th anniversary of the war on terror. He's been in Iraq for the past year, overseeing operations for the 3rd Infantry Division. "We started off with a campaign plan and that's a series of operations that we were going to undertake over the course of about 12 months," said Ashe.

They handle everything from major operations to kill or capture Al Qaeda to helping with rebuilding efforts in Iraq. Ashe's division is made up of about 20,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. "So for 20,000 people, we have to give them the orders that will shape the way they go out and execute this fight," said Ashe.

And Lieutenant Colonel Ashe has seen positive results from this ongoing fight.

"When we first hit the ground, we were experiencing in excess of 25 attacks per day against our soldiers here in Iraq. Now we are at about 2 attacks per day," said Ashe.

The war itself has been attacked in this big political race for the White House. People are calling for troops to withdraw. "From our standpoint, we understand that this is an important mission. It is a mission that we've shown that we are obviously capable of completing and we have every intention of completing this mission," said Ashe.

Ashe also wants the people back here at home to have a clear picture of that mission and what's happening with their sons, daughters, sisters and brothers. "It's a shame more people don't get a chance to see what our young folks are doing but it makes you get up everyday and want to work hard just to make sure that you don't fail them," said Ashe.

In his eyes, the mission has been successful so far. He hopes that continues as another year of war begins.

Ashe says they are now shifting gears a bit. There's still a security focus but there's more focus on capacity building for the Iraqi people. Soldiers are now working with city council members and even local farmers, helping out in any way to get the Iraqi people back on track.

Ashe will soon return to Fort Benning where he'll take command of one of the battalions. He says he's excited to be returning home to Georgia.  

feedback: news@walb.com?subject=Iraq5YearsAshe

 

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