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Troops to face fewer deployments
Phillips says more dwell time coming
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Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, division deputy commanding general-rear, speaks at the Chamber of Commerce Progress Through People Luncheon on Thursday. - photo by Photo by Pat Watkins
Fort Stewart’s 3rd Infantry Division is, possibly, on the dawn of a time when its soldiers will be spending more time on post than on deployment or training up to deploy.
“We are not looking at these deployments ad infinitum,” Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, division deputy commanding general-rear, told the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday at the Econo Lodge in Hinesville. “It may seem like it because we’ve been through so many years of it.”
At the chamber’s March Progress Through People luncheon, he said events could change his forecast. “The enemy always gets a vote.” But, he said he expects a time similar to when he first entered the service when soldiers could expect to spend entire enlistments at one duty station, serving in their military occupation. That has not been the case here during the past decade.
The 3rd ID has been in the forefront of U.S. efforts in Iraq since the 2003 war that toppled Saddam Hussein and the subsequent Operation Iraqi Freedom deployments that have been rebuilding that country’s government and security forces.
But a confluence of events there and emerging philosophies in the Pentagon make it likely troops will get more at-home time. Iraq events include a drop in violence that has allowed U.S. troops to change their combat role to what they now call advise and assist.
“We are now working with Iraqi authorities in what we really think is the end of operations there,” Phillips said.
President Barack Obama has also said troops will be out of Iraq by August 2011.
The general said the Army sees itself focusing more on Afghanistan. But the 3rd will not routinely roll into deployments there because of a philosophy the commander there, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has developed that he calls “continuity,” Phillips said.
Continuity means divisions that have been serving there will continue to bear the brunt of deployments because of their make up and familiarity with the people and terrain in Afghanistan. Those units are light infantry fighters.
“Most of our forces here are heavy units … those units will start staying home much longer because they will not have orders to deploy. In fact, by 2012, we’re looking at, out of the 45 active Army brigades, only 15 will have deployment orders or a date to deploy,” Phillips said.
Calling it a radical change from today, the general said, “As we hit 2014, the Army is hoping to achieve the vision of three units to dwell at their home station for every unit that is deployed."
The absence of troops here will get worse before it gets better. At this time the division is in the middle of a deployment with more than 15,000 troops gone. More than 12,000 of them are in Iraq. And the area will actually say goodbye to more through the summer. Parts of the division’s sustainment brigade leave in April and will be gone a year. And the 4th Brigade Combat Team leaves in July for a year in Iraq.
In the fall, however, units that deployed last fall will start returning and welcome home ceremonies will run through July 2011, when the 4th is expected to return.
That is when Phillips expects the area to notice the change in deployment routines the most because, besides having the current troop strength home more, the post is likely to see a 1,000 troop increase. Growth will continue on post, he said.
“What we see here is a very robust construction budget,” which the general compared to what is being spent at the massive Fort Hood in Texas.
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