Thousands of troops with the Third Infantry Division's First Brigade Combat Team are already serving in Iraq. Over the next few weeks, many more soldiers at Fort Stewart are stepping up their training, preparing to go. The Fourth Brigade Combat Team is practicing their response to IED (improvised explosive device) attacks.
For hours, soldiers rehearse how they'll react to attacks from the enemy. Training with explosives and troops acting as casualties and insurgents. The idea is to move injured troops as quickly as possible while keeping the area secure. Training lets them get it right.
"We're taking advantage of every opportunity we have right now to train our soldiers for deployment," explained 4-64 Armored Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Johnnie Johnson, "Obviously, if we're asked to deploy earlier, there is some pressure associated with that, but our training will help us prepare mentally and physically for those rigors."
Captain K.C. Woody, commander of the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion's Charlie Company said it gives soldiers experience they can't find in a classroom setting.
"I think it adds some realism to the soldiers," he said. "It makes them more confident and it will serve them better in theatre."
New soldiers are also learning from the veterans in their units. Sergeant Logan MacDonald, a squad leader with the 464 Armor Battalion, has already served twice in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"My number one thing I tell them to do is listen to people who've been there before," he said. "Listen to the stories they tell. Take their advice and take everything they say to heart. There's no better training than listening to someone who's already been there and done that."
The Fourth Brigade is scheduled to deploy in September, but they know they could be sent early. The Third Infantry Division's Second and Third Brigades have already been told they'll deploy early.