The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Dan Rather talks with the soldiers of Bravo Company in Kuwait.
For many of the young Americans serving here in Kuwait, the run-up to a possible war has been a classic case of "hurry up and wait," reports CBS Evening News Anchor Dan Rather.

After the big push to get into position near the Iraqi border, they've spent months training for battle and they aren't afraid to tell you they're growing impatient.

The men of Bravo Company were back in the trenches Tuesday training for the dangerous job of clearing the enemy out of its bunkers.

They repeat the same drill over and over like a football team practicing an especially complicated play. But make no mistake: this is no game.

Bravo Company has already been training in the desert for four months. They've reached their peak; now they have to struggle not to lose that edge.

At times the strain shows.

"Just shut up and do what I tell you," screams one member of the 3rd Infantry Division.

These soldiers are with the mechanized infantry. They could be among the first to cross the border into Iraq, but for now their biggest enemies are uncertainty and delay.

"If we're going to do it let's just do it, because with this waiting and just waiting you kind of get a little rusty," said Staff Sgt. Samuel Austin. "We're ready now, so let's go ahead and do what we have to do."

After months in the desert, even the heavy armor needs to be taken apart for maintenance. The environment is even tougher on soldiers.

"If we're going to make a decision we need to make it soon," said Specialist Chris Hayes. "You know it's going to get pretty hot. We're going to need to go north or go home."

For now they're not doing either. And their commanders are making sure they stay focused.

"We don't give them the opportunity to get bored," says Lt. Col. Stephen Twitty. "We know that soldiers lose the edge in a day or a week or a month, so we go back and revisit those tasks that we feel they need more training on."

When they're not training, the soldiers are listening for any news on what lies ahead.

Asked if they've heard any good rumors lately, one soldier says to laughter from his comrades, "Yeah, that we're going home in a week."