Third ID Prepares for Redeployment - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/11/04

Third ID Prepares for Redeployment

Gen. William Webster Gen. William Webster

The time home for Third Infantry Division soldiers won't be as long as was hoped. Soldiers from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield will return to Iraq by the end of the year. Even as Third Infantry soldiers returned from Iraq, the warm welcome was cooled by the news.

The Marne Division will return to the troubled region starting in November. But commander Gen. William Webster says the new orders are no shock. "They've know six or seven months," he told us. "They've know that they would eventually go back to Iraq. Now that we've got orders, it gives us a mark on the wall and something to continue to prepare for."

Troops have already returned to the ranges of Fort Stewart to prepare. They're also getting used to a new organization structure that is supposed to make the units more flexible for deployment and war conditions. And Webster says when Third ID does go back, it will be a different environment. "The situation will be more secure and we will be supporting a new Iraqi government, so our role will be different," he said.

Even so, the separation then will be as hard as it has been now. More than 16,000 Third Infantry soldiers deployed to Kuwait and then into Iraq last year. Many were worried how neighboring Hinesville would survive in their absence. Again, we'll have to wait and see.

Units will head to Fort Irvin, California, later this month for the national training center. Since the first Gulf War, it was the warm-up for Fort Stewart soldiers before they head to the Middle East.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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