Combat Soldiers Exit Iraq, Idaho Soldiers Prepare to Enter


When the new issue of Time magazine hits newsstands this weekend, more than a few Idahoans will be interested in the article: "Iraq: What Will the Remaining 50,000 U.S. Troops Do?"

There was a sigh of relief at the Pentagon Wednesday as the U.S. Army's final combat brigade crossed form Iraq into Kuwait ... But it's not quite over yet.

Watch the evening news, and Americans can be forgiven for thinking that military focus is shifting dramatically to the war in Afghanistan. Idahoans can be forgiven for keeping their eyes keenly focused on Iraq.

It is now just a few weeks before some 1,500 Idaho soldiers leave for Camp Shelby, Miss., in preparation for 10 months in Iraq. In addition to Idaho units, the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team will include another 600 each from Oregon and Montana. Beginning this weekend, many of them are heading to Boise's Gowen Field for the final round of training before being shipped out.

The majority of the soldiers are expected to arrive Saturday for three weeks of annual training that will precede two months at Camp Shelby. For about 45 percent, it will be their second deployment to Iraq. Almost 700 of the men and women who spent a year in Iraq in 2004-05 came home and continued training, knowing they could be called up again.

Once in Iraq, the brigade is expected to be split into smaller units to handle convoy operations, installation security and other tasks to support Iraq's security force, which is now estimated to be 660,000 strong.