Now that most of the 3rd Infantry Division soldiers have returned from yearlong deployments to Iraq, some soldiers will leave Fort Stewart for their next assignments, new ones will arrive and those who remain will train for their approaching missions.
However, not all Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield soldiers are back yet.
"Currently, we have about 500 3rd Sustainment Brigade soldiers and about 560 92nd Engineer Battalion soldiers deployed to Afghanistan," Fort Stewart spokesperson Kevin Larson said. "In Iraq, we have (deployed) more than 2,800 soldiers with the 4th Advise and Assist Brigade and more than 700 3rd Sustainment Brigade soldiers."
The 4th ICBT will return to Fort Stewart in July.
Larson said the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team at Fort Benning redeployed in September and October 2010, the 2nd Brigade and division headquarters returned to Fort Stewart last October and the 1st Brigade came home last December.
Hunter Army Airfield’s 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade redeployed in November-December 2010, he added.
"We’re approaching the time of year when soldiers traditionally move from one assignment to the next, or even move from Fort Stewart-Hunter to another duty station," 3rd ID deputy commander Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips said. "A result of this transition is that while there is no significant change in the 22,000-plus soldiers who serve here, there is an influx of people with fresh ideas and energy, many of whom may not know about this wonderful place and our great neighbors. Give or take, about 5,000 soldiers are expected to transition to and from the installation; that means the population here will remain stable."
Phillips said the training schedule will focus on transitioning troops from a deployment posture to a garrison posture. The general said Fort Stewart’s soldiers will now prepare "for whatever mission our nation gives us."
"That includes mastering basic mission essential tasks," he said. "We want to get our soldiers back into a fighting standard where they can succeed at any mission our nation asks us to perform. We won’t jump right into having M1 main battle tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Apache gunships in gunnery and on maneuvers, though."
Phillips said the Army will adhere to its training and preparedness doctrine titled ARFORGEN (Army Force Generation).
"ARFORGEN drives a methodical process to regenerate our units, train these new unit teams formed out of these new personnel, and prepare our soldiers for combat," he said. "First, we reset the equipment and the soldiers."
Part of the reset process is allowing Fort Stewart soldiers time to reconnect with their families, which involves reintegration and leave time, Phillips said.
"With equipment, it means turning wrenches," he said. "It also means receiving new personnel into our units. After that, we begin training with the fundamentals; focusing on individual skills like marksmanship. From there, we build into team training; we call it collective training, with small groups of soldiers practicing their skills. Then it’s bigger training events like unit gunnery at the range."
The general said this training will culminate with major exercises involving vehicle maneuvers and "soldiers in the piney woods of Fort Stewart or at places like the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif."
Phillips said none of the division’s maneuver units are currently slated for deployment.
"That means we anticipate for approximately the next two years, barring a mission that might call upon us, that we’ll be able to focus on training and preparing to meet whatever mission we may be assigned in the future," he said. "Focusing on the basic mission-essential tasks, the ‘block and tackle,’ is solid training; it prepares us for any and all missions, be it providing assistance in the homeland after a natural disaster to conducting counterinsurgent operations to conducting larger scale combat operations."
Phillips said it is "too soon to tell" how anticipated Department of Defense budget cuts will impact Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield.
"To even guess at such would be speculative," he said. "Regardless of budget, we are focused on careful stewardship of every dollar entrusted to us by the American taxpayer, and are prepared to execute the national will."
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced earlier this year the defense department would reduce its senior ranks and freeze civilian staffing levels in order to help save $4 billion over the next five years, according to a report by American Forces Press Service.