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Commercial Pilot Helps Iraq War Effort

Audio

Aired 5/7/10

A commercial pilot from Southern California left his civilian job to help with the war effort in Iraq. We recently spoke with Navy Captain Pete Gurney about life in Baghdad.

A commercial pilot from Southern California leaves his civilian job to help with the war effort in Iraq. We recently spoke with Navy Captain Pete Gurney about life in Baghdad.

DWANE BROWN: Captain Gurney, you've been a Navy reservist for 17 years, even spent some time in North Island here in San Diego. Tell us how long you've been in Iraq, and how this tour compares to previous ones.

CAPTAIN PETE GURNEY: Well, I have been in Iraq since February 22nd of this year, so not even three months. This just happens to be my first deployment as a Navy reservist in support of the war out here. I was on active duty from 1985 to about 1992, spent three years out in Japan out on the USS Midway, and then spent two years out in El Toro, California.

PAMELA DAVIS: Now you said you're supporting the war there. What are you doing exactly?

GURNEY: I am part of a strategic planning cell, we are actually in support of the government of Iraq and the Iraqi security forces. And we're planning to transition, from the United States military to the government of Iraq, so I'm part of a strategic planning cell that's working those transitions.

DWANE BROWN: Well, many of us civilians have seen the war in Iraq go on on television, this is the first time you've seen it up close and personal. What was your initial reaction when you got there?

GURNEY: Well, um, I was actually surprised by the lack of violence. I'd seen a lot on the television, but I really haven't seen a lot as a constant on a day-to-day basis. It's pretty safe here, and I think that was one of the things that surprised me, and also made my wife, who's back in Orange County, a lot happier.

DAVIS: What will it take to get the Iraqi forces ready to take over security for their country?

GURNEY: We're trying to make sure that we equip them, that we train them, and we give them the support that they need in order to, uh, make the progress that's required. We've got goals between the two countries, and we're on track on that glide path to meet the requirements for the president at the end of 2011, when it's our time to pick up our bags and everybody be gone.

BROWN: You mentioned the violence appears to have subsided in Iraq. How are the Iraqi people reacting to American forces?

GURNEY: I think the Iraqi people are reacting relatively well. We've come in and assisted their security forces in order to help them quell the violence back in the 2006 and the 2007 timeframe. But what we've is been able to step back and let them take control, and I think that the Iraqi population is very appreciative of the fact that we are in a definite support role of the Iraqi security force and allowing them to make their own progress towards the time when we can completely leave, and they will have it.

BROWN: So Captain, when are you expected to come home?

GURNEY: Somewhere in the late January, early February of 2011, it'll be time for me to come on home.

DAVIS: And that is Navy Captain Pete Gurney. U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of next year, in 2011.

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