Iraqis Wed to GIs Face Uncertain Future

Two National Guard soldiers who married Iraqi women against their commander's wishes will have to wait at least eight months to return home with their brides, according to a lawyer for one of the soldiers.

The women's visas will take at least that long to process by mail because the State Department is not issuing visas in Iraq, said Richard Alvoid, an attorney hired by Sgt. Sean Blackwell's family.

The wait could be even longer if the military decides to charge the men with disobeying orders, Alvoid said.

Blackwell, 27, and Cpl. Brett Dagen, 37, were Christians who converted to Islam so they could be married under Iraqi law. Their commanders took the unusual step of ordering the men not to marry.

The soldiers, members of the 3rd Battalion of the Florida Guard's 124th Infantry, are expected to remain in Iraq at least until February. The men had wanted to send their wives, both physicians, to the United States sooner because of threats from anti-American Iraqis.

The men have been restricted to their bases since the double wedding in August, and they have not been allowed to see or speak to their wives since then, the soldiers' mothers said Monday.

Capt. Jason Beck, a spokesman for the 3rd Battalion of the Florida Guard's 124th Infantry, did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

Alvoid said he has received word from the Judge Advocate General's Office that charges have not been filed but the soldiers were under investigation.

Lt. Col. Ron Tittle, spokesman for the Florida National Guard (search) in St. Augustine, said earlier this month that the soldiers' battalion commander had been worried the marriages might distract his troops from their mission and compromise their safety.