Troops React to Tour Extension

The city of Ramadi in Iraq is a warzone.

But looks can be deceiving, according to Colonel John Charlton of the Third Infantry Division, based out of Fort Stewart.

There is actually quite a bit of progress amidst the destruction.

"We're at the point right now where all of the organized terrorist cells in Ramadi have been defeated and cleared out of the city so the city is for the most part cleared of terrorist cells and that has brought the level of violence down significantly in the city," said Col. Charlton.

Many troops within the first brigade combat team are partnered with Iraqi police and army members to help maintain security inside of the city.

But while some of the enemy threats have decreased, the troops' desire to return home has not, which is why the recent call to extend tours of duty by three months in Iraq and Afghanistan was a bit of an unwelcome surprise.

"It kind of came suddenly, said Col. Charlton. "We got the news and of course, it wasn't exactly good news to the soldiers and the families to hear that they would be spending more time away from each other. It's about bringing greater security to Iraq. It's also to ensure that the units that are about to deploy over here get all the time they need to prepare for the mission and of course it's also about getting a predictable schedule so that the units know when they are deploying over and they have a better idea of when they are going to return home."

Col. Charlton says morale remains high because the soldiers see the difference their work is making.

He says democracy is beginning to be seen in Ramadi.

So if the extension allows the troops to further complete their mission, he believes they are ready for the task.

Reported by: Karla Redditte,