Originally created 12/16/04

Guardsmen train for service in Iraq



In the freezing but peaceful cold of a Wednesday morning at Fort Gordon, National Guard soldiers were trained as if gunfire were erupting around them.

"Let's go, let's go, soldier," Sgt. 1st Class Albert Watts shouted to Spc. Danny Hughes, who was administering first aid for a chest wound on a practice dummy.

"You're still getting fired at," the sergeant shouted. "He's still bleeding."

Fort Gordon is training almost 500 members of the Army's 48th Brigade Combat Team, composed of members of the 48th Infantry Brigade of the Georgia Army National Guard and members of the Alabama National Guard.

The Defense Department announced Tuesday that members of the 48th will be deployed to Iraq by the middle of next year as part of the ongoing troop rotation.

The Guard members have been performing what the Army calls "common task training" - the basic things every soldier needs to know to survive.

Besides first aid, soldiers were trained on keeping their M-16 rifles in good repair, using tactical radios and other topics.

Many of the soldiers going through the training at Fort Gordon have been through the training and have performed the tasks before.

"This is a refresher for some, as they're getting ready to go over there," said Maj. Arlesia Andrews, who helped with the training.

But there's at least one new thing the soldiers are being prepared for - deadly improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, which have been responsible for more than 17 percent of deaths during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The soldiers are picking up or remembering the skills well, said Sgt. 1st Class Trenton Glenn, who trained soldiers on the use of tactical radios.

"It comes back to them," he said. "Some of them have been around for 10 to 15 years. And some of the equipment is new to them."

The soldiers at Fort Gordon will be released Dec. 22 for the holidays before being sent to Fort Stewart, where they will continue training with other members of the 48th before deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.

Units training at post:

GEORGIA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD:

 •  1-108th Armored Battalion

 •  'E' Troop, 108th Armored Battalion

 •  Companies B and C, 1-121st Infantry

ALABAMA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD:

 •  Company A, 1-167th Infantry

Source: Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office