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General's wife: Complaints aid enemy in Iraq

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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Public griping by spouses of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq could hurt the war effort by encouraging Saddam Hussein loyalists to continue their guerrilla war, according to the wife of the division's commander.

"When the Iraqis see media coverage of disgruntled Americans publicly campaigning for the return of our soldiers from Iraq, they are encouraged and believe their strategy is working," wrote Anita Blount in an open letter to spouses in The Frontline. The publication is a community newspaper in Georgia for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, home to the 3rd Infantry.

Anita Blount is the wife of Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the division, who is in Iraq leading his troops.

She said Iraqis who see complaints by U.S. families could come to believe "that their continued attacks on American soldiers are having the desired effect and are diminishing the resolve of the American people to complete the task in Iraq."

Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry led the charge to Baghdad in March and April. Two brigades still in Iraq have seen their deployment extended until the fall as troops deal with persistent attacks on U.S. forces.

Officials with the 3rd Infantry Division said this week that they expected to bring about 9,000 soldiers from the 1st and 2nd brigades back to the United States within two to four months. They disputed reports the troops had been told they would be in Iraq indefinitely.

The division's 3rd Brigade already is returning. At its peak, the 3rd Division had about 16,500 soldiers in Iraq, according to Army officials.

The extended deployments have prompted some 3rd Infantry soldiers in Iraq, and some family members at home, to go public with complaints.

Anita Blount admitted she was angry when she heard the recent news about another delay in bringing the soldiers home.

"I want my husband home just as you do. After 34 years of marriage, life just isn't the same when we're apart," she wrote. "But I always say that the one thing we can count on in the Army is that things will change. Our nation's overall plan for our forces in Iraq is changing as the situation in Iraq changes.

"We have the right to be disappointed, and it is understandable if we are angry," she continued. "I know that many of you believe you should embark on a campaign to raise awareness of the need for [the 3rd Infantry] to return. We need to be aware of a possible outcome of our outcries that could backfire on us directly."

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