By Staff Sgt. Natalie Hedrick, 3rd HBCT, 3rd ID Public AffairsOctober 29, 2009
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - When Soldiers of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division waved "goodbye" to their loved ones and climbed on the bus that took them to the plane to haul them overseas, they were not going to Iraq. Not just yet.
After almost 48 hours, Sledgehammer Soldiers stepped off the plane in Ali Al Salem in Kuwait City. This time without the fanfare, they loaded another bus headed for the first leg of their deployment: Camp Buehring.
Over the three weeks to follow, 3rd HBCT Soldiers conducted a series of training events while getting acclimated to the dry heat and time zone change of the Middle East.
For Specialist Cathlynn Shagonaby, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native serving in Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, four days was all it took to adapt to the changes.
"I think the month we spent at (the National Training Center) helped weather-wise," she said. "To get used to the time I just tried to stay up until it was time to go to sleep, Kuwait time."
"The training schedule allowed little flexibility for Soldiers to have trouble acclimating. Troops hit the ground running as training here is meant to protect the Soldier," explained Capt. Nicholas James, assistant operations officer for the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment. "The training is based on problems we've seen. A lot of Soldiers are killed from IEDs and vehicle roll-overs. It's important to look out for Soldier's safety."
Camp Buehring is the final time the 3rd HBCT will train as a whole before moving north into Iraq. Soldiers spent 30 days training at Fort Benning during Hammer Focus and then another 30 days at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.
"The training in Kuwait offers different tastes than NTC, hence more variety," said 3rd HBCT Command Sgt. Maj. James Pearson. "Where previous training events, we were focusing heavily on the brigade as a whole; in Kuwait, we are able to get individual and platoon-level training."
The current 2009 training at Camp Buehring is Command Sgt. Maj. Pearson's third with the brigade. He said he is always impressed with the training.
"The training incorporates the latest tactics, techniques, and procedures from Iraq," he said. "We will be better prepared as a result."
Command Sergeant Major Pearson said the 3rd HBCT Soldiers will spend the next approximately 365 days advising and assisting the Iraqi security forces so they will be able to secure Iraq with minimal outside help.
Captain James is certain training will continue in conjunction with the accomplishment of the mission during the unit's deployment to southern Iraq.