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Gator Brigade demobilizes before holiday
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FORT STEWART — The 188th Infantry Brigade of First Army Division East ensured the proper demobilization of soldiers of the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team as they arrived back in the U.S. from their deployment to the Middle East.
As the demobilization began, Gen. James D. Thurman, commanding general, U.S. Army Forces Command, arrived to discuss demobilization and redeployment operations with Maj. Gen. Mick Bednarek, commanding general of First Army Division East and Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division. 
While here, Thurman assured Lt. Col. Bobby Roach, executive officer, 53rd IBCT, that all 53rd  soldiers would be given the time they needed to complete the demobilization process.
During their meeting, Bednarek emphasized the partnership that existed between First Army and the 3rd Infantry Division, enabling them to integrate returning forces from 53rd IBCT and 3rd ID into facilities on Fort Stewart during the same time period.
He also discussed First Army’s concept of focused soldier care as a means of providing individualized administrative, medical and behavioral health care to returning citizen-soldiers.
He said demobilization flowed smoothly for the soldiers of the 53rd IBCT, owed in large part to the coordination between the leadership of the 53rd and the demobilization team, which consisted of the 188th Infantry Brigade, Winn Army Community Hospital and the Mobilization Operations Center.
“The biggest take away from the demobilization was that everyone came together to work the issues before they became problems,” said Lt. Col. Pete Kaye, 53rd IBCT rear detachment commander. “Everyone focused on the goal and made it work; that goal being to get the 53rd IBCT soldiers home, while still maintaining standards of care set for the demobilization.”
As part of the focused soldier care concept, more than 170 ready reserve soldiers not returning to a National Guard unit were assigned a nurse case manager from Winn to make sure that any deployment-related medical needs not treated at Fort Stewart were met in their home states.
“Meeting the commitment to provide focused soldier care is our number one priority throughout the demobilization,” said Col. Robert A. Warburg, commander of the 188th Infantry Brigade, which facilitated the 53rd IBCT’s demobilization.
The majority of the 53rd IBCT soldiers completed demobilization Dec. 22 and departed Fort Stewart either the same day or the following day. Most of the brigade should be home by today.

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