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3rd BCT begins deployment
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The first group of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team left Saturday, starting the brigade’s deployment flow into Iraq.
The 50 soldiers make up what the military calls a 'Torch Party,' responsible for setting up support in preparation for the arrival of the rest of the brigade.
This deployment, moved up by almost three months, will mark the Fort Benning-based brigade's third deployment since 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is the 3rd ID's second brigade to deploy in a deployment sequence expected to continue through the summer.  
Amid controversy and criticism about the Army's rush to send untrained troops to combat, the brigade completed its deployment training cycle Feb 15, as predicted. 3rd ID Commander Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch previously said the brigade would be battle ready despite the President’s announcement made in January to increase troops on the ground in the war zone to more than 20,000.
The announcement has required the military and their families to separate earlier than anticipated. Lynch and more than 1,000 soldiers of the 3rd ID headquarters will deploy around mid-March as a result of the new strategy for Iraq. They were previously set to deploy in June. 1st BCT has been involved in combat operations since it deployed in January.
The 2nd BCT is currently training for deployment set to happen in May. By the end of May more than 12,000 Dog Face soldiers will be serving in Iraq.
Last week, the Under Secretary for the Army made a stop at Fort Stewart to talk to Lynch and look at soldiers training up for deployment.
According to a Fort Benning press release, Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey will make a return visit to Fort Benning Friday to talk to 3rd BCT soldiers preparing to deploy. Harvey last visited the installation in December.
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