Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Jill Atwood reporting A bomb attack takes another American life today in Baghdad. That's five soldiers dead in just three days, 38 dead since President Bush declared major combat over.
Now, many Utah National Guardsmen find themselves right in the heart of Baghdad, picking up where the regular Army left off. About 300 members of the Military Intelligence Battalion are still in country, but most aren't gathering intelligence, they're pulling guard duty.
Patty Houston/ Soldier's Mother: "I said, 'What'd you do today?' just in a casual conversation. And he said, 'We trained in house-to-house combat.'"
Patty Houston has a 23-year-old son over there. She can't understand why he's toting an M-16 instead of doing what he was trained to do -- intelligence analysis. She stopped short of saying he's down, but did say at times he sounds discouraged.
Patty Houston: "I've spoken with other military moms outside of my son's battalion, and their concern is exactly mine, that our sons are being used in ways that they are not prepared, and they are constantly in harm's way."
Lt. Colonel Brad Blackner empathises with Houston, and other families in her situation, but says bottom line is that soldiers will be used where and how they're needed. He is quick to clarify that all soldiers are trained in combat.
He says the problem right now for the MI battalion is the uncertainty as to when they're coming home.
Lt. Col. Brad Blackner/ Utah National Guard: "Well, the active duty's going home, and why do we have to stay? The reason is they may get recalled to go back over again, so when that National Guard trou is up after one year."
But now even that is in question, with the President who is considering an extension of National Guard orders up to two years.
But headquarters here insists they're doing all they can to get them home as soon as possible, and to keep morale up.
General Tarbet planned a trip to the Middle East to boost morale and push for his soldiers' timely return, but that trip has been postponed for security reasons.