Sgt Major Frank Liles relaxes in his street clothes with his family under a decorated Christmas tree. He's just back from his third deployment to Iraq. The first order postponed a retirement scheduled to begin days before he got his marching orders. So the 20 year veteran began looking forward to Jan 1, 2008, but once again he was told there would be a delay. " Now they say it will be May 1st," said Liles with a grin. He's remaining optimistic.
Despite the disappointments, the supervisor of over 540 soldiers had an opportunity to experience changes in Iraq. Lilies noticed, " It's really changed in the 14 months I was there. It is really turned 180 degrees. "
Liles cherishes the moments with his wife Carra and other family members. He knows of others who aren't so lucky. Liles recalled, " There at the first, when we landed on the ground, of course, within 24 hours after we took roll we had lost a soldier. Within the first six months losing soldiers was very high. "
This week the announcement came that 12,500 additional soldiers will receive combat and support training in Texas in the coming years. This veteran officer remains concerned about the lack of training on the front line. Liles emphasized, " We can prepare the soldiers for combat, but it's not really the real thing, unless you're on the ground. "