CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait - For Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the first step home after their 15-month deployment to Iraq begins in Kuwait.

For the past few weeks a large contingent of Black Jack Soldiers have been arriving to different bases in Kuwait in order to pave the way for the rest of the brigade's movement back to Fort Hood, Texas.

"We basically have two missions in Kuwait and that's moving personnel and equipment home," explained Maj. Thomas Weiss, the brigade's redeployment cell officer-in-charge at Camp Virginia. "After a 15-month rotation in Iraq you've got personnel who are down in other parts of Kuwait and are helping to prepare the vehicles and wash them and get them ready to get on either ships or other conveyances back to the States.

"Then we've also got people down here who are helping process the personnel at Virginia to go back to the States. Once we get both of those things accomplished we can go back successfully as a brigade to Fort Hood," Weiss said.
While Soldiers are cleaning the brigade's vehicles, more Soldiers are receiving and processing the first groups of the brigade's Soldiers to return home.

"Basically they stay here for 48 to 72 hours until they're ready to get on a plane and go home," Weiss, who is originally from River Falls, Wis., said, "So we give them a room, make sure all the paper work is straight and make sure they get out of here on time and on the right flight."

Weiss said the process is designed to be as quick and painless as possible.

"We've been getting a lot of support from the Air Force and a lot of support from the other agencies that are here in Kuwait," he said. "This is a relatively mature theater -we've been here awhile and standard operating procedures are in place - and people know what they're doing so it all goes pretty smoothly.

"They know the Soldiers have been in Iraq; they've been in combat and they've been away from their families for a very, very long time, and they do their best to minimize the time you spend down here and the pain that you have to go through to get out."

While Weiss said the system isn't perfect and some Soldiers may have a longer wait than others, each step is necessary to ensure that the entire brigade returns home safely.

"It's just one more step on the road to getting home," he said. "As long as we do all of this successfully, then we'll all get home soon."