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Iraqi officers tour post

Visitors learn post history, family support

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POSTED: May 12, 2010 12:33 p.m.
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Brig. Gen. Thomas Vandal and Col. Stuart McRae escort Iraqi and Kurdish officers down Warriors Walk on Fort Stewart last Saturday.

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Several high-ranking Iraqi military officials visited Fort Stewart on Saturday. Brig. Gen. Thomas Vandal, deputy commanding general-support, escorted his Iraqi and Kurdish counterparts, who were eager to see U.S. soldiers in action on their home turf and learn more about Army operations.
Among the post’s visitors were Brig. Gen. Jameel, liaison officer to the Ninewa Operations Command; staff Lt. Gen. Hassan, NOC commander; brigade commanders of the 2nd and 3rd Iraqi army divisions, and the 3rd Federal Police Division.
While in the United States, the group toured the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery and Carlisle Barracks in Harrisburg, Pa. The Fort Stewart stop served to help Iraqi and Kurdish army officials understand the importance of caring for soldiers and their families.
As Hassan put it, “We always see Americans in Iraq, but rarely know the story behind them. We have learned how the Army takes care of its families and we would love to be able to copy that procedure. We have learned a lot and hope to be able to provide these ideas to our army in the future, especially from the social side.”
With the help of a translator, Division Rear Detachment Commander Col. Stuart McRae treated visitors to an overview that highlighted the history of Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, the installation’s mission and vision, endorsed by 3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo. McRae explained the Army Family Covenant and Army Community Covenants.
Ginger Cucolo, the commanding general’s wife, participated in the panel discussion and offered insight on behalf of soldiers’ families.
McRae told the group that more than 82,000 soldiers have been deployed in combat tours from Stewart-Hunter in recent years.  “The 3rd ID footprint is still in such places as Germany and Haiti and, of course Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
“This is considered to be one of the best departure ports in the Army,” Vandal said.
Today, the Army is the best it has ever been, McRae said. Even though soldiers may have different jobs, such as medic or policeman, the colonel said, they are riflemen first.
A visitor asked how the post’s ranges support certain types of vehicles for training. “We have multiple ranges to support every type of vehicle, many of which are computerized,” McRae said. “Where our eyes make mistakes, the computer does not.”
Just as diversity exists in the Iraqi army, Vandal said, the U.S. Army is home to soldiers of various heritages. “We celebrate the diversity in our cultures,” he said. “Every minority group is absolutely critical to the success of the Army. Because of the ethnic diversities, we celebrate monthly recognitions.”
This month’s recognition, Asian-Pacific Heritage Month, is today at Club Stewart, where Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua T. Savusa, senior enlisted leader, U.S. Pacific Command, will be honored.
Throughout the officials’ visit to post, Vandal stressed preparation and commitment. “First off, the amount of preparation the U.S. forces go through to deploy is significant. We have committed a significant amount of resources in preparing our soldiers and their families for deployment,” he said. “We are committed to a long-term strategic relationship between the government of Iraq and the U.S. We see part of this trip as the bonding and the friendship that has occurred between the ISF and the U.S. forces.”
The visitors also watched demonstrations at Clifford Range, tested out a simulator, toured Warriors Walk and several housing units, and ate lunch at a dining facility.
After leaving Fort Stewart, the group visited Fort Carson, Colo., and trained with the 4th Infantry Division, the unit expected to replace the 3rd ID in Iraq.

 

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