Chicago-area soldiers react to Obama's speech

August 31, 2010 (CHICAGO)

ABC7's Karen Jordan spoke with two soldiers who served in Iraq.

The end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq brought Sergeant First Class Reginald Hart home six weeks early. His family is throwing a big party for him over the weekend. But he still has a keen interest in the changing direction the U.S. mission is taking and watched President Obama's remarks Tuesday night about preparing Iraqis to take control of their country.

"They just want their country back from America and from the insurgents. So I think they're on board with the process," said Sgt. Hart.

Hart had one tour of duty in Afghanistan and one in Iraq where he was part of the transition team that is training Iraqi troops to be self sufficient. He says he agrees with the president that huge sacrifices were made by troops to put Iraq in the hands of its people. Hart spent time away from his five children and he says some of his colleagues paid the ultimate sacrifice, but that it is worth it.

"The process is going very well…Iraqis are definitely ready to take control of their own country," said Hart. Iraq veteran Eugene Cherry does not agree. He was a medic in Iraq in 2004 and says the country is worse now than before the U.S. invasion.

"Iraq is actually in my opinion more unstable than it was before the US actually invaded," he said.

Cherry has been an opponent of the war and supports the draw down of troops.

"What you're seeing now is a country that has its entire military and political system disbanded and then rebuilt in a democratic image and I don't think it's particularly working," said Cherry.

Cherry goes on to say that many of the troops coming home from Iraq will likely get a break for a few months before being sent to Afghanistan.

Hart says he fulfilled his duty in Iraq and supports both President Bush who ordered the invasion and President Obama. But he is looking forward to retiring from the army in a couple of years.

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