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Schofield leadership team comes home


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POSTED: Friday, November 06, 2009

The three-star general who commands all Army troops in the Pacific says future deployments affecting Schofield Barracks' 25th Infantry Division depend on President Barack Obama and the Pentagon's decision on force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, said yesterday that the 25th Division's 3rd Bronco Brigade Combat Team, which returned last month after spending a year in Iraq, will be home for at least 12 months before being sent off on another deployment.

The division's other infantry brigade, the 2nd Warrior Stryker Brigade Combat Team, is preparing to return next summer to Iraq, where it will train Iraqi security forces.

Mixon was on hand at Wheeler Army Airfield yesterday to preside over the homecoming of the 65-member leadership team of the 25th Infantry Division.

Maj. Gen. Robert Caslen, division commander, commanded Multinational Division North and the six brigades and the 20,000 soldiers assigned to it in Iraq, starting in December.

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During the last year, Caslen's division completed 230 projects and initiated 140 more, including some that resulted in better power distribution and improved infrastructure in the area. The soldiers built or renovated 67 educational facilities and rebuilt roads and rail systems in northern Iraq.

“;Part of what we wanted to do was to rebuild the infrastructure of the essential services, like water and agriculture. If you are going to have a government that is going to be legitimate, it has to provide for security and essential services.”;

After a 15-minute homecoming ceremony, Caslen told reporters, “;Iraqi security forces are getting better every day.”;

He noted that Schofield Barracks soldiers played a crucial role in the implementation of the U.S.-Iraqi security pact early in the summer, paving the way for the planned withdrawal of American troops from Iraq by December 2011.

“;When we left the cities in June, there were some apprehensions whether they (Iraqi security forces) could accomplish the mission,”; Caslen added, “;but they did so and they got better every time.

“;They are getting better equipped. They are getting better trained. Their leaders are getting better.”;

As for the insurgency problem in Iraq, Caslen said he believes it has “;alienated the people.”;

“;The people don't want it. They don't relate to it, and if the insurgency is going to get any way with the people, it is going to be through intimidation.”;