News: Service members talk to 'Fox and Friends'
Story by Spc. Timothy Koster
BAGHDAD – Four service members deployed to Iraq took time out of their busy schedules to conduct a live interview with Clayton Morris on Fox News’ morning program "Fox and Friends," Sept. 5, at 7:20 a.m. EST.
Senior Airman Terence J. Manson, Spc. Ashley Powell, Petty Officer 3rd Class Clinton Howell, and Lance Cpl. Isreal Schafer were chosen to stand alongside Maj. Gen. Jeffery Buchanan, spokesman for United States Forces – Iraq, to discuss matters regarding the country’s transition during Operation New Dawn.
“We have just under 50,000 very good spokesmen and women in USF-I and they can talk about what is going on here under Operation New Dawn better than anyone. So, I really appreciate the troops who took time out their day to join me in the interview,” said Buchanan.
While most of the questions during the short segment were directed toward Buchanan, each of the service members was given the chance to respond to a question about how the country has changed from the perspective of the junior enlisted service members out in the field.
“I couldn’t tell you exactly where it was before,” said Howell, in response to how the country has progressed, “all I know is that now I have seen the Iraqi army taking charge of security checkpoints and they’ve been doing what they need to do to run their country themselves. I’ve enjoyed working with them over the past six to seven months.”
“There’s been a lot of good progress,” added Manson, a San Antonio, Texas native.
Continuing down the line, Powell, a finance specialist with the Florida National Guard, offered this insight, “They’re a lot more confident and secure with themselves. I think they’re ready to take over.”
“I think they have complete trust in themselves and we can leave whenever and they will be ready for it,” added Schafer, a Lebanon, Ind., native stationed out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.
The first question for Buchanan was about whether or not Iraq, after eight years of war and American-led contingency operations, is ready to be self-sufficient.
“Iraq has made tremendous progress over the last eight years and a number of us who have served here on and off over the years continue to be inspired by the growth economically and certainly in the security forces,” said Buchanan.
“I think the Iraqi government, the country and the security forces are all on the right track. They are headed in the right direction. I think there are some obstacles ahead that we don’t fully understand, but I think our transitions, especially this fall, to the leadership at the U.S. Embassy are all on track,” he added.
Although the segment only lasted a few minutes, the impression it left on the young service members who were able to take part will be lasting.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to represent my fellow soldiers here today. It puts a face to what we do here for the people back home. I think it's an excellent idea to show what we are able to do for our country and to help the Iraqi people come into their own. It's an amazing feeling to be a part of all of this and I feel blessed to experience everything I have over here,” said Powell who is from Saint Augustine, Fla.
Buchanan was also impressed by the performance of these service members who are on their first tours of duty, and was thankful for the seemingly endless support Americans have given to all the service members who traveled far away from home to make a difference overseas.
“One thing I’d like to add; all these great troops behind me, this is their first tour in Iraq, but I think they clearly represent the best and brightest in America,” said Buchanan. “They’re motivated every day to make a difference and they are making a difference. And part of their motivation comes from all the great support they get from you.”