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Sending e-mail from the workplace to home can be a distraction from the tasks at hand. But when the workplace is a battle zone and the employee is a service member or Defense Department civilian deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, sending e-mail home is important to morale.

Units in Iraq have created cybercafes for soldiers, federal civilians and contractors to contact their families and friends.

'Every combat commander said these were a real boon to morale for the troops,' said GTSI Corp. executive Joe Draham, who recently returned from an Iraq posting as senior adviser and counselor to the Coalition Provisional Authority's chief operating officer. There's always a line to use the PCs at a 24-hour cybercafe in the former palace that serves as coalition headquarters.

During the first Gulf War, domestic telecommunications companies donated telephone call time to the troops. In Vietnam, communications between the battle zone and the home front were mostly by postal mail.

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