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Spc. Charles Welling of Headquarters Support Company, 94th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), deployed to Mosul, Iraq, says he’s not daunted by the possibility of another Iraq tour. “I just re-enlisted, but I don’t mind coming back here,” said Welling. “We’ve got a job to do, and we’ve got to finish it.”

Spc. Charles Welling of Headquarters Support Company, 94th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), deployed to Mosul, Iraq, says he’s not daunted by the possibility of another Iraq tour. “I just re-enlisted, but I don’t mind coming back here,” said Welling. “We’ve got a job to do, and we’ve got to finish it.” (Rick Emert / S&S)

Spc. Charles Welling of Headquarters Support Company, 94th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), deployed to Mosul, Iraq, says he’s not daunted by the possibility of another Iraq tour. “I just re-enlisted, but I don’t mind coming back here,” said Welling. “We’ve got a job to do, and we’ve got to finish it.”

Spc. Charles Welling of Headquarters Support Company, 94th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), deployed to Mosul, Iraq, says he’s not daunted by the possibility of another Iraq tour. “I just re-enlisted, but I don’t mind coming back here,” said Welling. “We’ve got a job to do, and we’ve got to finish it.” (Rick Emert / S&S)

Pfc. Christan Beyer of the 94th Engineers wasn’t surprised to hear U.S. forces could remain in Iraq for several years. “As far as all the news stories on the Army pulling out of here early, I didn’t think it could happen that fast,” Beyer said.

Pfc. Christan Beyer of the 94th Engineers wasn’t surprised to hear U.S. forces could remain in Iraq for several years. “As far as all the news stories on the Army pulling out of here early, I didn’t think it could happen that fast,” Beyer said. (Rick Emert / S&S)

Spc. Robert Jackson of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, now deployed to Afghanistan, said he’s staying in the Army regardless of the Iraq situation.

Spc. Robert Jackson of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, now deployed to Afghanistan, said he’s staying in the Army regardless of the Iraq situation. (Jason Chudy / S&S)

Gen. Peter Schoomaker’s comments that troops levels in Iraq could remain unchanged for the next four years didn’t come as much of a surprise to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the news could affect decisions to stay in or get out of the Army, the soldiers said after hearing the news Sunday.

“We came here to do a job and then go home, whether that takes 10 years or even 15 years,” said Spc. Allan Annaert, from Headquarters Support Company, of the 94th Engineer Combat Battalion, (Heavy), which is stationed in Mosul, Iraq.

For Annaert, the thought of returning to Iraq would weigh heavy on any decision to stay in the Army.

“I joined the Army after the war in Iraq started and I caught the tail end of [Operation Iraqi Freedom I],” he said. “After a year in Germany, I’m back [in Iraq] for a year. For me personally, if it could mean coming back here once or even twice more, I would probably get out when my enlistment is up.”

Others were resigned to come back to Iraq for another tour.

“It’s going to affect me because I just re-enlisted, but I don’t mind coming back here,” said Spc. Charles Welling, also of the engineer battalion. “We’ve got a job to do, and we’ve got to finish it. I already anticipated coming back again, and I’ll be ready for it.

“If we started this to help [Iraq], then we’ve got to finish. If that takes until 2010, then it takes until 2010.”

Pfc. Christan Beyer, also of the engineer battalion, plans to move over to the Active Guard and Reserve and doesn’t expect to deploy to Iraq again, even if the troop levels stay the same.

“As far as all the news stories on the Army pulling out of here early, I didn’t think it could happen that fast,” Beyer said.

Though not in Iraq, troops serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, echoed their fellow soldiers’ thoughts of “staying Army,” but some were surprised by the Army chief of staff’s comments.

“The news said we’d have troops [coming] out next spring, now they’ll probably be extending everybody, maybe stop-loss more people,” said Spc. Robert Jackson of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.

But, he said, it won’t affect his plans.

“I’m staying in,” he said.

Sgt. James Sturdy, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 2-504th, said more deployments may make staying in the Army difficult for some soldiers with families.

“It’s not going to change my mind … I’m staying in, either way it goes,” he said.

But, “deployments are hard on families,” so more deployments could mean some soldiers will get out, Sturdy said.

Pfc. Christopher Abrams, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, said he doesn’t see anything wrong with another trip to Iraq.

“I signed up for the Army knowing I was going to war,” Abrams said. “What’s wrong with a second tour?

“You signed up … You gotta do what you gotta do.”


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