Officials at Fort Stewart are prepping for more than 12,000 Oregon Army National Guard soldiers scheduled to arrive on post this summer.
In less than 45 days, members of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team will be headed to Fort Stewart, where they will be trained by members of the 188th Infantry Brigade Combat Team for a July deployment to Iraq.
Last week, officers from the First Army Division East, the 3rd Infantry Division, the 188th IBCT and the 41st IBCT held a rehearsal of concepts drill at Fort Stewart’s Caro Gym.
Officials said the drill was intended to refine the current mobilization plans of the 41st IBCT and assess any additional needs or services the unit or its instructing brigade might require during the mobilization phase.
Maj. Gen. J. Michael Bednarek, commander of the First Army Division East, was first to address those present.
He opened by applauding the dedication of everyone involved in the pre-mobilization efforts.
“We’re forging a team here to ensure mission success criteria for the 41st Infantry Brigade,” he said. “Thanks, right up front, to everybody here from Fort Stewart … your hard work has helped us put the framework of this in place.”
Next to take the floor was Col. George Geczy, commander of the 188th IBCT.
Geczy laid out the details of the training mission and said the focus of the 188th IBCT will be to make sure the soldiers of the 41st IBCT are ready to meet the demands that will be expected of them once they are in theater.
“We will be gaining expert understanding of what’s going on in Iraq right now. This is essential to the training here,” he said. “The key words are to remain flexible and adaptable … as best we can to replicate the environment and what the mission sets are as they prepare to go to Iraq.
“Safety will be our number one concern,” he continued. “We will be working around the 1st HBCT’s training exercises … and it’s going to be high-[operations] tempo across the Marne Division.”
During the mobilization phase, Fort Stewart officials said, convoys will be going off post and sharing the road with civilians.
However, speed limits will be reduced on post, bringing the current limit down from 55 to 45 miles per hour along Highway 144.
After safety concerns, medical support and equipment shortages topped the list of discussions for drill attendees.
Currently, officials said, the 41st does not have enough medical staff to support all the exercises involved in the training.
The 41st is the third external non-Georgia brigade to train at the Fort Stewart in the past 15 months.
Members of the Indiana Army National Guard’s 76th Infantry Brigade prepared for their movement to Iraq by training at the post in January 2008.
They were followed by members of Texas’ Army National Guard, the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The 56th IBCT will be replaced by the 41st IBCT during this summer’s rotation.
They trained for their deployment to Iraq at Fort Stewart in November 2008.
The movement by the 41st IBCT will be the largest deployment out of Oregon since World War II. Only 50 percent of its current soldiers have deployed before.