By Denise Etheridge, Frontline ContributorMay 19, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Hearty crowds braved intermittent rain May 14 to enjoy the Small World Festival in downtown Hinesville.
Several community leaders, including 3rd Infantry Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Robert "Abe" Abrams and Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas, also didn't let wet weather keep them from mingling.
Thomas had attended the Liberty County Justice Center's grand opening earlier Saturday morning.
Major General Abrams, who took command of the 3rd ID just last month, attended the event with his wife, Connie, and 16-year-old son, Robert.
"I'm looking for every opportunity to get out and meet people and talk to (area) leadership," Maj. Gen. Abrams said.
Major General Abrams commented how some communities near military installations can become "deployment exhausted," but said he's seen no evidence of that here in Coastal Georgia.
"They're very supportive," he said. "We've received a great welcome."
Major General Abrams said Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield is fortunate to enjoy a symbiotic relationship with surrounding communities. This goodwill is all the more important when units deploy, according to the general.
Installation leaders announced May 13 that roughly 700 troops from the 3rd ID Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion will deploy to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn late this fall. Major General Abrams will deploy with them.
"We will leave a robust rear detachment of about 200," the general said.
Major General Abrams said he already has "someone in mind" to lead the 3rd ID in his absence but cannot announce his pick until his recommendation is approved by his boss, U.S. Army Forces Commanding Gen. James Thurman.
Major General Abrams said former 3rd ID deputy commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips did a "fantastic" job as rear detachment commander during the 3rd ID's 2009-10 deployment and expects the same level of leadership for the upcoming deployment. The general said the person he has in mind has experience at Fort Stewart and with the 3rd ID.
"We won't skip a beat," Maj. Gen. Abrams said.
The general said 3rd ID troops are training differently, and the Army has taken on a new mission mindset. He said troops would train for specific deployments in the past, but now with events fast-changing the world over, Soldiers must prepare for "any mission, anytime, anywhere."