FORT STEWART, GA (WTOC) - Having to say goodbye is something families of Fort Stewart soldiers may not have to do for quite some time. Big plans are underway for Fort Stewart.
"We're anticipating being here at home for a couple of years. We're looking forward to that," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips.
Phillips said that by July of next year, all of the 3rd ID will be back home. "It'll be an amazing sight to have everyone back together," said General Phillips.
Already crews are working hard, getting ranges in shape, getting barracks, and homes renovated; ready to welcome the troops back.
But that's not all that's going on. Fort Stewart is already preparing on how they will reintegrate the soldiers into civilian life.
Phillips said that during this war, the Army learned it's not as simple as saying 'welcome home, life is now back to normal.' "It used to be that way, but life wasn't back to normal," Phillips said. "He gives an example. "Say, take a family, I'm generalizing, but the spouse is a female, she's learned to be more independent during her husband's deployment. He's been a soldier in combat, with all the stresses and requirements. Then they come back together again, to some degree or another they're different people, and we have to help get them back together so they're a successful team again.
And in order to do this means the soldiers will go through a ten day course, as well as undergo medical evaluations. "There's going to be some marriage work together with chaplains. If they have a motorcycle, they will go through motorcycle safety training, there will be a re-introduction into your automobile. So these ten days are taken up with getting them back into the flow of things," Phillips said.
Then for the next eighteen months they will begin training, before they enter what's called availability; meaning for a year the soldiers are on standby on a worldwide basis.
Anyone who knows the military knows all this could change, but for now it looks like our troops will be home. "There's going to be a lot of people, a lot of traffic. I think the economy in the area is going to really enjoy it," Phillips said.
Hinesville will finally be back to normal after years of deployments.
As for what's going on in Iraq, Phillips said that Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo has reduced his troops from 21,000 to 9,600 and has made major progress overseas.
"He's handed over about 26 of his bases to Iraqi forces. He's transferred $20 million worth of equipment to the Iraqi government and has returned about a billion dollars worth of equipment back to the army," Phillips said.
Phillips adds that on top of reducing forces, Cucolo is in the middle of the army's transition to operation "New Dawn;" which is a mission that's helping the Iraqi Special Forces stand on their own two feet. "They're doing a good job with that," Phillips said.
More of the 3rd ID will return home at the end of this month.