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1,000 trainers are advance for Guard unit
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Fort Stewart acknowledged Friday that more than 1,000 additional soldiers are on post in preparation for a major training event for a brigade of the Indiana National Guard which is headed for Iraq.
More than 3,000 members of the 76th Brigade Combat Team will be coming to Fort Stewart next month for final training before deployment.
The 1,000 soldiers here now are characterized as observers, controllers and trainers who are preparing for the Mission Rehearsal Exercise next month.
Word of the increased number of soldiers came in a release from Fort Stewart which urged motorists to drive safely and to be aware of the additional personnel on the installation.
The 3,400 members of the Indianapolis-based National Guard unit had been expecting mobilization since February.
The outfit had expected to deploy in 2009 or 2010, but the troop surge in Iraq accelerated the schedule, said Col. Keith Sharples, a Noblesville, In., infantry officer in the brigade.
If all stays on schedule, the men and women will be back in the United States by December 2008.
Although most units in the 76th have seen duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, this marks the first time the brigade will serve together overseas. It’s also the largest deployment of a single unit of the Indiana National Guard since World War II, said Lt. Col. Deedra Thombleson, an Indiana Guard spokeswoman.
“There’s part of you that knows your friends are going into harm’s way, and it makes you a little nervous,” said Thombleson, who will not be deployed. “But the soldier in you makes you want to concentrate on preparing the other soldiers.”
As more soldiers arrive, Fort Stewart will be increasing traffic safety awareness, lowering speed limits and taking other safety measures.
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