Brig. Gen. Jeff Foley handed over command of Fort Gordon to Brig. Gen. Alan Lynn in a ceremony at Barton Field. (July 21, 2010 / WRDW-TV)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, August 23, 2010
While U.S. combat forces have been removed from Iraq, Fort Gordon and its troops may continue to play a vital role in Iraq. Their presence in Iraq could be there for many years to come. Still, with combat troops leaving, what does it mean for the support elements?
"We all understand that when we joined the military part of our job could very be called upon to go forward and support the constitution and that's exactly what we're doing tonight," said Lt. Col. Robert Edmonson, 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion Commander.
Loved ones said good-bye once again to members of the 63-rd ESB on Saturday. Their job in communications support is a highly specialized mission that may still be needed in Iraq down the road.
"There's still a mission in Iraq, it's not a combat mission,it's now primarily a mission of training the Iraqi security forces and the police forces," said Retired Army Colonel Thom Tuckey who is also the Executive Director for the CSRA Alliance for Ft. Gordon.
Tuckey understands the role Fort Gordon's troops will play.
"The communications element that left from Ft. Gordon has a responsibility to go over and provide the communications that are linking all of those support elements together," said Tuckey. "Even though our combat role has ended,there is still a support role that has to be maintained for a considerate amount of time as we train the Iraqi army and police forces.
Which means a portion of the 50,000 troops still on the ground will come from Ft.Gordon and will continuously be part of the rotation. While they will not be patrolling the streets of Baghdad, the soldiers and civilians from Ft. Gordon will be providing support to the Iraqis who are. Tuckey says its all part of the master plan and when the troops return home to Augusta there will be another farewell ceremony somewhere else with troops waiting to take their place.
"They're deploying with the understanding that it's a deployment and then they'll be rotated out," added Tuckey. "If the mission continues beyond that it'll be another communication element that falls in right behind them."
More than 120 soldiers deployed on Saturday from Ft. Gordon. This will be the fourth Middle East deployment for some members of the group.
For more information on how deployment cycles work go to:
U.S. Army Deployment Cycle Readiness at www.armyonesource.com.