By Ms. Jennifer Scales (IMCOM)May 13, 2010
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Brigadier General Thomas Vandal, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general-support, returned from deployment to escort several of his Iraqi and Kurdish counterparts around Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, May 8.
Brigadier General Jameel, liaison officer to the Ninewa Operations Command; staff Lt. General Hassan, NOC commander; and other brigade commanders of the 2nd Iraqi Army division, 3rd Iraqi Army division, and the 3rd Federal Police Division arrived in the United States to learn more about the Army and other details of the Soldiers and the areas from which they come.
"We always see Americans in Iraq, but rarely know the story behind them," said Lt. Gen. Hassan. "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."
The division rear detachment commander, Col. Stuart McRae, gave an overview to the visitors, including the history of Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and its mission and vision, attested by Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, 3rd ID commander. He also explained the Army Family Covenant and Army Community Covenant. Ginger Cucolo, wife of Maj. Gen. Cucolo, was also a part of the discussion panel, sharing insight into the Soldier Family aspect.
Beginning through Shirif, their translator, the visitors heard from Col. McRae how Families and Soldiers are an entire package at Stewart-Hunter.
Even still, more than 82,000 Soldiers have been deployed in combat tours from Stewart-Hunter through the recent years.
"The 3rd ID footprint is still in such places as Germany and Haiti, and of course Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan," said Col. McRae.
"This is considered to be one of the best departure ports in the Army," added Brig. Gen. Vandal.
"Today the Army is the best it has ever been," said Col. McRae. He also explained that even though Soldiers may have different jobs, such as medic or policeman or other skills, they are riflemen first.
One of the visitors posed questioned about the ranges and how they could support certain types of vehicles for training.
"We have multiple ranges to support every type of vehicle; many of which are computerized," Col. McRae responded. "Where our eyes make mistakes, the computer does not."
When it came down to the social climate, Col. McRae remarked that we have two lines of support: inside and outside the gate. He explained to the visitors the importance of the Army Family Covenant, which takes on the promise to create a constant support Families can count on. He also discussed the Army Community Covenant, which entails a commitment to the community.
"Our communities and our military are very dependent upon each other," Col. McRae added.
As diversity exists in the Iraqi armies, Brig. Gen. Vandal even remarked upon the diversity in the military.
"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."
Fort Stewart recognized Asian-Pacific Month at Club Stewart, May 12 with Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua T. Savusa, Senior Enlisted Leader, U.S. Pacific Command.
"Ethnic diversity is our greatest strength in the Army," said. Col. McRae.
It was remarked that at some point, maybe the Iraqi army could begin to recognize their diversities and celebrate theirs through monthly observances.
If there is anything that that Brig. Gen. Vandal wanted the group to take away with them from their visit, it would be preparation and commitment.
"First off, the amount of preparation the US forces go through to deploy is significant," said Brig. Gen. Vandal. "We have committed a significant amount of resources in preparing our Soldiers and their Families for deployment. 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."
During the day at Stewart, the visitors were also treated to demonstrations at Clifford Range, a simulator, Warriors Walk and housing tours, plus lunch at a dining facility.
Since being in the U.S., they have had the opportunity to visit the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, and Carlisle Barracks. Before returning to Iraq, they will visit Fort Carson, Colo. where they will have an opportunity to train with the 4th Infantry Division, the unit that is expected to replace the 3rd ID.