With war looming now that talks between the United States and Iraq have broken down, the idea of going into combat doesn't seem as much fun as it used to, several U.S. soldiers said Friday.

"What a time to come to Saudi Arabia," said Pfc. Xavier Gomez, 20, an Army National Guardsman fresh off the plane from San Antonio, Texas. "I'm scared. Very, very scared."It's an emotion shared by many of the close to 400,000 troops in Operation Desert Shield that was rarely expressed until this week, with the Jan. 15 deadline for military action against Iraq approaching. Many soldiers saw the televised news conferences from Geneva by Secretary of State James Baker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, and said the starkness of their disagreement convinced them war was inevitable.

"All the way up to now, especially with the holidays, I always kept the 9th (of January) as maybe a little hope, like maybe nothing will happen here and they'll be able to work it out and we'll be home in a couple of months," said Air Force Capt. Steve Adams, 28, of Middletown, Conn.

"But everything we've been preparing for, it looks like it may turn into reality."

Last August, the first wave of American soldiers were certain they would, as one put it, "kick Saddam's butt and go home." But after five months of heat, sand and boredom, some soldiers are beginning to think maybe the waiting wasn't so bad if combat is all you have to look forward to.

"People are treating Jan. 15 like D-Day. It's not," said Army Pfc. Allan Deetz, 22, of Defiance, Ohio.