COVER STORYThe challenge of KurdistanNearly two months after Gen. Ray Odierno, the top commander in Iraq, announced plans to establish trilateral patrols and checkpoints manned by U.S., Arab and Kurdish forces to relieve tension in areas claimed by both Arabs and Kurds, negotiations are moving slowly and communities in the region that would benefit from increased cooperation and trade continue to languish. • Story

Failures cited in electrocutionsSpc. Chase Maseth, a 24-year-old Green Beret assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group in Iraq, died while showering in a facility that had an improperly grounded water pump. The Department of Defense inspector general , in a report released in July, found that the contractor tasked with performing facility maintenance, along with military commanders, failed to ensure the safety of servicemen and women. • Story

Battle persists outside war zoneRecently released figures show Marines are taking their own lives at alarmingly high rates, and deployments appear to be taking a toll. Through September, the Marines have recorded 38 confirmed or suspected suicides in 2009. Should the pace continue through the end of the year, the Marines would be facing a 20 percent increase from 2008 figures. Suicides also rose 27 percent from 2007 to 2008. • Story

Taking troops directly to Afghanistan from Iraq is costly, adds to deployment timeAs President Barack Obama ponders whether or how to grant his Afghanistan commander’s urgent request for up to 60,000 more troops to expand the flagging war against Taliban insurgents, one obvious question arises: Why not simply transfer thousands of soldiers from nearby Iraq? • Story

Senior DOD leaders' views on 'don't ask' policy unclearAs lawmakers prepare to debate the military’s ban on open homosexuality, they do so with a conspicuous absence of guidance from senior military leaders. • Story

Spouse CallsA weekly column in Stripes' Scene magazine by Terri Barnes, a military wife and mother of three who lives and writes in Germany. • This week's column • Terri Barnes' blog

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