48th Brigade Trains at Fort Stewart

We know them as police officers, business owners, even our neighbors next door. They're the men and women of the 48th Brigade, training for a mission in Iraq, preparing for the dangers they'll face every day.

For 2nd Lt. Mariel Potts of Savannah, the back roads of Fort Stewart have become the roadways of Iraq. As the 48th Brigade prepares for deployment, she practices leading a convoy on patrol.

"They put you in all kinds of situational stress in limited time constraints," she told us. "You have to adjust."

More than 4,500 soldiers from Georgia are on base to hone the skills they've learned in their local units. For an hour, one unit drives a ten mile track. Along the way, an observer-controller triggers targets to simulate insurgent attackers.

Soldiers never know what situation they'll face next. The intelligence they use to test these soldiers is not from six months or a year ago. It's from yesterday and sometimes earlier today.

Guard soldiers say they'll need that kind of info to serve shoulder to shoulder with the active-duty troops already in the field. "You go from doing this two days every month to doing it every day and doing actual training, it's another world," said Spc. John Price.

"At this point and time, I'm confident in the way we're trained as a unit as a whole," said Spc. David Pierce. "For the most part, it's been busy."

Soldiers say all the extra training here could mean the difference between life and death there.

The 48th Brigade will train at Fort Stewart for another month then move to the national training center in California for two weeks, then back to Fort Stewart before they deploy to Iraq.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com