Local Military Families React to Possible Troop Increase

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Knoxville (WVLT) - As we head into the Holiday, local military families are learning the president's plans to increase the size of the U.S. military so it can fight a long-term war against terrorism. However, is that what East Tennessee military moms and dads want?

Volunteer TV's Gary Loe met with marine corps parents and joins us with their thoughts on a troops build-up.

President Bush says the demands of fighting terrorism are stretching our military too thin. Knoxville mothers and fathers who have sons fighting in Iraq, disagree with each other on what military direction the president should take.

Marine sergeant Andrew Simmons of Halls packed to leave home back in September for his second deployment to Iraq. Once there, he suffered a shrapnel leg injury from a roadside bomb.

"It has gone on longer that we had hoped for and more people are getting hurt than what we expected," father Mike Simmons said.

Sergeant Simmons' dad Mike Simmons says despite that, the U.S. needs to continue the fight against terrorism. President Bush said in a year-end news conference he wants to enlarge the size of the army and the marine corps to relieve the heavy strain on u-s troops.

"Whether more troops is the answer, I don't know," Simmons said. "We need to keep their judicial system going, their government going, their agricultural, those kind of things need to be working, so we need to maybe send those kind of people."

The war in Iraq has claimed the lives of more than 2,900 American military members. Another Knoxville marine parent opposes sending a surge of troops to Iraq as a first-step to taking control, which president Bush is considering.

"I believe it is time for us to end it. I believe we that we've fulfilled our mission. I don't support sending more troops," local marine mom Clementine Kirkpatrick said.

Clementine Kirkpatrick's son Sergeant Jamaal Kirkpatrick is fighting in Iraq, also, his second deployment there.

"I would just like for president Bush to spend more time with the Lord, to be, so he can know the next move on how to do it," Kirkpatrick said.

Meantime, this marine dad supports the president's goal of bringing stability and security to Iraq.

"You want them home, but you know," Simmons said.

Those Knoxville marines are scheduled to return home sometime in March, but that could change if president Bush orders more troops to Iraq. The president says he's not yet made a decision about a new strategy for Iraq. He's expected to announce one in January.