By RYAN LENZ
Associated Press Writer
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) - The commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division on Tuesday cautioned the American public against dismissing the Iraq war as a failure as units prepare to deploy again this fall.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, who took command of the Fort-Campbell, Ky.-based division after its return last year from a 13-month deployment to Iraq, said the politics of the war must be separate from those who fight its battles.
"What we should not be doing as American citizens is to start indicating that what the soldiers are doing is in any way wrong or illegal," Schloesser said. "The last thing that you want to have happen is an army in combat with people saying that we really question what our government is having them do."
Schloesser said questioning a military at war cuts to the heart of a "social contract" it shares with the public. The division's soldiers do not want their efforts to be lost on a dismissive public tired of casualties as the Iraq war moves into a bloody fifth year.
"What they do want is the acknowledgment that what they're doing is important," Schloesser told reporters during a briefing to discuss the division's upcoming deployment.
Units from the 101st will begin a split deployment between Iraq and Afghanistan in September. Two hundred soldiers from the division have died in Iraq since the war there began in 2003.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)