2 brigades to skip desert training in rush to Iraq

February 28th, 2007  

Topic: 2 brigades to skip desert training in rush to Iraq

Some in Congress question forgoing training meant specifically for region

Updated: 3:54 p.m. ET Feb 27, 2007

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 that begin Wednesday.
Spokesman downplays impact
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.
“Your weapon won’t jam from sand at Fort Stewart,” he 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.”

Continued http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17365166/page/2/
March 1st, 2007  
Team Infidel
many, many of these soldiers are on their second and third combat tours.

Similar Topics
If Iraq Worsens, Allies See 'Nightmare' Case
U.S. Commanders Advance Plan To Beef Up Training Of Iraqi Army
Money, mandate ends for Iraqi police training academy in Jordan
New Rules In Iraq May Make It Tougher To Keep Insurgents
Shaking hands with Sadam Hussein