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CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq — Unsettling as it is, most U.S. troops understand, if not accept, the possibility of being wounded or killed in direct combat.

But in the wake of the deadly strike on a base dining facility near Mosul, soldiers are talking more than ever about what amounts to a lucky shot, or worse.

Random mortars and rockets hit U.S. bases throughout Iraq. More often than not, they land harmlessly in empty spots inside the wire.

“But if just one of those hits a trailer or a [Tactical Operations Center] or a chow hall, what are you going to do?” said Sgt. Charles Carter, a 24-year-old 1st Cavalry Division soldier stationed at Camp Liberty, formerly called Camp Victory.

“You can be wearing full battle rattle, or you can be standing in your towel shaving. If it’s going to hit you, it’s going to hit you,” Carter said.

“I don’t mean to sound heartless about it, but it’s something that you can’t think about too much.”

The same goes, he said, for the roadside bombs and car bombs that have become one of the main threats to servicemembers in Iraq.

Now with military officials saying a suicide bomber was the likely cause of the Mosul blast, soldiers say they have another tactic to consider.

By Wednesday, new uniform regulations were in place at bases throughout Iraq. Soldiers and civilians at Camp Liberty, for instance, said they were ordered to wear their helmets and body armor outdoors at all times. Many people wore their body armor the whole time they were in the dining facilities.

Outside one large chow hall, soldiers increased scrutiny of people entering and directed servicemembers and civilians out of a patio-like area routinely used as a smoking stop after meals.

“Sorry for the inconvenience,” said one of the soldiers on duty. “You all know what happened yesterday. It’s for your own safety.”

On Camp Liberty, officials had already been enforcing strict rules against taking things into and out of the dining facilities. Soldiers had previously joked that the measure was meant to keep them from smuggling extra drinks or food out.

Most weren’t joking any more.

“The thing in Mosul is what everyone’s afraid of, but hopes never happens,” said Spc. John Stack of the 10th Mountain Division, also at Camp Liberty. “Was it a lucky shot? If so, there’s not much anyone could have done.”


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