Military Salute: Progress report from Maj. Gen. Cucolo

By Dal Cannady - bio | email

WASHINGTON DC (WTOC ) - In a satellite briefing from Iraq to reporters at the Pentagon, Major General Tony Cucolo heaped praise on troops away from home and those in America who support them.

"When you're deployed and you weather a holiday period, it is interesting," the general explained. "The outreach of love and warmth that came from the United States from folks we didn't even know was absolutely fantastic and was a morale boost for soldiers over here."

He spent most of his satellite interview talking about the changing dynamics of Iraqi politics. He said the 21,000 troops he commands continue to work with Iraq's emerging army and police forces to protect the country from violent attacks by extremist groups who don't want the government to progress.

"What I see here is there's a thirst for change and a desire to exercise freedom," he described. That's freedom to vote, to make choices and have a government accountable to them."

He said the March 7 national elections will be their biggest project during this deployment as they work hand in hand with the Independent High Electoral Commission.

"We're listening to Iraqi election plans and looking for ways to help with things like barrier material at polling sites, coordinating outer ring security," he stated. "I don't expect a single US soldier will be anywhere near the actual polls."

They'll also see where things are in August when the US is scheduled to reduce its forces in Iraq. He closed his half hour talk with more praise for the troops helping make history.

"The American soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coast guardsmen are doing an outstanding job. I'm in awe of them every day," he assured.

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