War in Iraq Not Over for Families of 50,000 U.S. Troops Still There
Under saplings that line the concrete are new graves of fallen American soldiers, the latest of which only weeks old.
Today, I spoke with Nikki Ackles, whose husband, Eric, departed for Iraq on July 1. He is one of the 50,000 troops who will stay in Iraq until next summer, guiding, assisting or whatever the Pentagon wants to call their duties in the service of the Iraqi people.
Offcially, the remaining American troops will advise and assist Iraqi forces. In Pentagon-speak they will "conduct partnered counter-terrorism operations and provide combat enablers to help Iraqi security forces maintain pressure on the extremist networks." If that sounds like combat to you, it sure does to Nikki Ackles.
"There are still bad people in Iraq who do bad things to our soldiers no matter what the name of the mission is," she said in a reference to the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the beginning of Operation New Dawn.
"The way it's being said is that our combat troops are leaving Iraq," said Nikki, "but they're not."
What really worries Nikki is that Americans, hearing reports of combat forces being withdrawn from Iraq, will naturally conclude that the war is all but over and that her husband and his cohorts are only mopping up or turning off the lights. Untrue, she says.
Unlike the happy families who are welcoming back their soldiers from Iraq this week, Nikki and other family members will live for a year wondering if that knock on the door or that telephone call is bringing the worst possible news.
For now, she communicates with her husband by telephone and Skype over the computer. It's a blessing to see him, she says, but her nerves are shot. The Ackles have three daughters ages 10, 7 and 3. Abbi, the three year old, was at the desktop on Tuesday trying to raise her father on the other side of the world. "Daddy, daddy!" she shouted, but her father was not there.
"Don't forget us. We're still there (Iraq,)" Nikki said as we parted ways.
"Because the war's not over, right?" I asked.
"It's not over until every last soldier is home," she said.
- Dean Reynolds
Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.
- Did Obama admin. know of IRS targeting during campaign?
- 16-year-old finds a new way to detect cancer
- Lotto winners with tragic story thank "guardian angel"
- Thunderstorm supercells threaten Midwest
- 5/19: Surviving the Midwest twisters; How a $4.8 million winning ticket saved a family
- WH Benghazi emails have different quotes than earlier reported
- 5/18: NTSB investigates train collision; teen tackles cancer diagnosis
- Young Innovators: Teen tackles cancer diagnosis
- Conn. train collision a major headache for commuters
- The power of a uniquely American song
- 50th anniversary of Medgar Evers' broadcasting milestone
- Long Island college student accidentally killed by police
- 8-year-old fights to get WWII vet recognition he deserves
- Katie: The True Story Behind "The Last King"
- Lucky lotto: How a $4.8 million winning ticket saved a family
- More dangerous weather ahead for Midwest