Third ID Trains Up for Middle East - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/02/04

Third ID Trains Up for Middle East

Soldiers train for room-to-room combat. Soldiers train for room-to-room combat.

We all remember what the soldiers of the Third Infantry did during the war in Iraq. But they didn't learn those skills overnight. It takes constant preparation and teamwork. Thousands of those troops have spent the past two weeks in the woods of Fort Stewart to get ready to return to the Middle East. 

The sound of artillery is a familiar one to most soldiers in the Third Infantry. From those who fire it out of tanks and Bradleys to those who use it for cover as they cross a field on foot. This Marne Focus training resembles the way the Third ID won its battles in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"Generally when we come out here, it's force on force," said SSgt. Chad Brown. "We know who the bad guys are. We know who they are and shoot them."

But when they return to Iraq early next year, they could resemble a SWAT team as they prepare for house-to-house patrols and closer contact with the Iraqi people.

Sgt. Willie Cook said they plan to "be careful on triggers, can't pull triggers too fast, and pretty much [concentrate on] stabilization."

As part of their two weeks in the field, soldiers have crisscrossed Fort Stewart in trucks, behind armor, even in the air to hone their skills. This time around, soldiers will rely as much on diplomacy and finesse under stress as they do their ability to seek and destroy. Platoon after platoon, soldiers have practiced securing a fictional village and capturing--not killing--those who want to start trouble, working with those who don't.

"It's going to be how the soldiers walk down the street, how they interact. Engaging with the people," said battalion commander Lt. Col. Robert Roth.

That's why even tank crews have worked on close-quarters skills to make sure they're ready for everything they hope they don't see.

Soldiers from the Fourth Brigade will travel to Fort Polk, Louisiana, next month for their final train-up before the entire division deploys to Iraq this winter.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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