LONDON -- In a letter published in a British newspaper yesterday, a U.S. Air Force sergeant openly questioned the reasons behind his tour of duty in the gulf.
The letter to the Independent from Staff Sgt. William M. Ghetti, who was sent to Saudi Arabia from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, said: "Who would have thought we would be stationed in the Saudi Arabian desert after the events of the past year? The Cold War has nearly thawed and here we are fighting a war of nerves with the world's most notorious present-day madman. I am a true believer in what most of America stands for, yet I am troubled with the reasons as to why we are here.
"I, like my peers, left my family behind when we were deployed to Saudi Arabia. At the beginning, we felt the true patriotic commitment to serve the United States and its allies in their quest to restore the sovereignty of the monarchy of Kuwait and to show the rest of the world that terrorist insurrection would not be tolerated within the wake of global peace.
"As each day passes, it is becoming more apparent that our primary mission is to protect the Saudi oil fields, with the restoration of Kuwait as a negotiable secondary concern. After all, we have not intervened in areas of less economic importance.
"The greed that drives our oil-based world economy has put us in a position that we are willing to risk our nation's sons and daughters in the quest for stable prices at the pumps.
"I am aware we will all suffer as the price of gasoline rises and falls, yet I know from my experience in England that all does not have to be lost because of high petrol prices. It only takes a certain measure of discipline and the changing from some old, and perhaps unsound, habits to newer ones in order to get by. . . .
"What am I to tell my children about the missed birthday, school plays and soon Thanksgiving and Christmas? Will they ever be able to understand that I was gone for some of the most important times in their fragile lives because I was defending the price of oil?"
Sergeant Ghetti said, "This letter is an expression of my personal feelings and opinions although many others I know feel the same." He said he "battled with my conscience" over whether to send the letter, fearing he might "suffer some adverse actions from my superiors."
No Air Force officers at Lakenheath were available for comment yesterday.