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AN AIR BASE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN REGION — Master Sgt. Michael Davis was alone in a room available for the relaxation of off-duty troops, watching the flickering televised images of the latest news regarding possible war with Iraq.

The KC-135 boom operator from RAF Mildenhall, England, now serving with the 100th Expeditionary Operations Group, is a frequent follower of the news: “Just about every day, since I’ve been in the military,” he said.

About 700 airmen from across the Air Force are now at this location, which cannot be named for political reasons inside the host nation. The 401st Air Expeditionary Wing is being built here to participate in the war on terrorism and a possible war on Iraq.

They are, in a real sense, part of the news Davis was watching. As contingencies have increased in recent years, military members have more and more become part of the news.

Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Haiti, Panama and other hot spots on the globe have become familiar locales for America’s uniformed men and women. While CNN was derided during the Persian Gulf War as serving Iraqi intelligence, it is now a prewarning system for possible deployments.

“It kind of fills in some of the holes,” Davis said of televised and print news. “You only know so much from your briefings.”

Staff Sgt. Amanda Jones, a member of the 100th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, said she does not follow the news, but began keeping up on events as the possibility of her deployment neared.

“When they told me I was leaving, I watched [the news] to see if I would,” she said.

Added Master Sgt. Cleo Powell, 401st AEW finance specialist: “You’ve got to know what’s going on. If you’re informed, you can form opinions on whether what we’re doing is right or wrong.

“Either way, you’ve go to support your opinion.”

Military members say a knowledge of world events helps deal with family separations and discomforts that are part of deployments.

“That’s always a morale buster,” said Master Sgt. Steve Ross, the wing first sergeant. “[Deployed troops] stand around going, ‘Why are we here?’”

It helps the troops to have some idea of where they fit in the large scheme of things, whether they are front-line soldiers or administrative clerks in the rear.

“You have to know what’s going on,” said Staff Sgt. Sherina Ali of the 401st AEW finance unit.

“If we’re going to fight a war, I’d like to know why.”

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