Clipped From Indiana Gazette

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 - Iraq-bound Army units will forgo training By...
Iraq-bound Army units will forgo training By ROBERT BURNS AP Military Writer WASHINGTON — Rushed by President Bush’s decision to reinforce Baghdad with thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their usual session at the Army’s premier training range in California and instead are making final preparations at their home bases. Some in Congress and others outside the Army are beginning to question the switch, which is not widely known. They wonder whether it means the Army is cutting corners in preparing soldiers for combat, since they are forgoing training in a desert setting that was designed specially to prepare them for the challenges of Iraq. Army officials say the two brigades will be as ready as any others that deploy to Iraq, even though they will not have the benefit of training in counterinsurgency tactics at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., which has been outfitted to simulate conditions in Iraq for units that are heading there on yearlong tours. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Monday she is concerned about the “less-than-ideal training situation” for the 4th Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, which is based in her state and is one of the two brigades that did its final training at home. That brigade is to go to Iraq in April, one month earlier than planned. The other is the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga., which is due to go in May for its third combat tour since the war began in 2003. Instead of going to the National Training Center first, it imported personnel and equipment — even Toyota pickups like those used by Iraqi insurgents — from the training center at Fort Irwin for two weeks of final rehearsals. A spokesman for the brigade, Lt. Col. Randy Martin, said the soldiers lose nothing by the switch, while shaving about two weeks off their pre-deployment training schedule. “It’s realistic training,” he said. “I don’t think that anyone would say readiness is affected” negatively. He noted that another brigade from his division underwent similar home-station training before it deployed in January. “The preferred method is to have them come here,” a spokesman at the National Training Center, John Wagstaffe, said in a telephone interview Monday. The main things that cannot be replicated in a home station exercise are the vast spaces of the National Training Center, which is located in the Mojave Desert, and the weather and other environmental conditions that so closely resemble much of Iraq, Wagstaffe said. Murray said she does not doubt the ability of soldiers to adapt. “They have done everything we have asked of them,” she said. “However, I am deeply troubled by the president’s escalation plan and am committed to questioning the new demands it places on service members.”

Clipped from
  1. Indiana Gazette,
  2. 27 Feb 2007, Tue,
  3. Page 7

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