With The Troops: Armed with Their Teeth

TIME reporters witness hope and fear, joy and tears, and above all the death rattle of a regime

NAJAF JIM LACEY

It may have been the most unusual directive of Gulf War II. "Soldiers of 2nd Battalion," ordered Lieut. Colonel Chris Hughes. "Smile!" With that, infantrymen of the 101st Airborne Division, armed to the teeth, began flashing their choppers at a crowd that had grown restless as the soldiers approached the mosque at the Tomb of Ali in Najaf, one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest sites. The tactic helped win over a crowd that had more questions than answers. Were the soldiers going to storm the mosque, as some agitators were shouting? Were they liberators? Or conquerors? Were they really...

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