Third ID Deployment Delayed - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/29/04

Third ID Deployment Delayed

It's Christmas in July for Third Infantry Division Troops and their families. They might just stay home through the Christmas holidays. They were heading for another rotation in Iraq before the end of the year, and now it looks more like after New Year's. But with everything in the region of the world in question, the assurance isn't given or taken as absolute.

The clouds may have been dark over Fort Stewart today, but the silver lining may be on the calendar. For months, soldiers there have known they would redeploy to Iraq. But the time period may now be a little bit more certain. Division commander Maj. Gen. William Webster has said current indications are his soldiers probably won't leave until January.

The 19 thousand troops could be home through the holidays. That's welcome news to soldiers like Maj. Rob Rooker. "We actually heard through the grapevine, but that's the first time it's officially put out," he said. "Rumors have been around."

But the good news is hardly written in stone. If problems increase in the country or the Pentagon chooses to relieve current troops sooner, Third ID could leave in the fall instead.

"When you're moving this many troops, you never know exactly hour and day, usually you find out three to four days or a week ahead of time," Rooker told us.

Rooker says, as an experienced soldier, he's learned the only constant is change. And as we've seen before, with 20,000 soldiers, the deployment takes days to get so many planes and soldiers off the ground.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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