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Baumholder brigade’s Iraq deployment delayed

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — The looming November deployment of Jeni Kopp’s husband struck fear in her heart.

In May, Kopp’s older brother was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. With that pain still fresh, the thought of her husband departing for 15 months was unnerving to say the least.

So when word came down Tuesday evening that the 1st Armored Division, 2nd Brigade’s deployment would be delayed until early 2008, Kopp had a great sense of relief.

“It’s an answered prayer,” said Kopp, 22, beaming as she walked to lunch Wednesday. “I’d be happy if they keep pushing it back as long as possible.”

Around post Wednesday, spouses were breathing a sigh of relief and already looking forward to a holiday season with their husbands. For more than a week, rumors were flying around base about the potential for a change in the deployment schedule.

Soldiers, who have been out in the field training for the last couple of weeks, were notified Tuesday of the deployment delay. Soon the soldiers were making calls to their spouses, breaking the news long distance.

As a result of the delay, soldiers with Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry will now receive 12 months at their home station. A November deployment would have resulted in the unit receiving just nine months of dwell time, which is at odds with Pentagon policy.

Such concerns weren’t the reason for the postponement, however.

“This proposed adjustment is part of a comprehensive (U.S. Central Command) review of incoming brigade size elements in an effort to maximize their capabilities and better facilitate force flow and transitional requirements. The timing of where and when specific units deploy is dictated by the needs of the Combatant Commander,” according to an e-mail sent Tuesday to 2nd Brigade Combat Team families, which explained the purpose of the delay.

The e-mail, obtained by Stars and Stripes, also discussed some scheduling changes that can be expected.

“Between now and the deployment: we foresee going to Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr from mid-October to just prior to Christmas, with approximately 10 days of ‘max’ leave time around Christmas and New Year’s.

“January and February will include deployment preparation here in Baumholder with a 2-week ‘block leave’ period tentatively set for 4-17 February. This is good news for many families,” said the e-mail from brigade commander Col. Robert P. White.

For some soldiers, the postponed deployment is a disappointment.

Pvt. Christopher Anderson, 23, a new member of the 2nd BCT, arrived in Baumholder on Monday, having just completed basic training in Fort Benning, Ga.

“I was eager to go,” said Anderson, who will be joining the rest of the brigade in Grafenwöhr next week for training.

Pvt. Cameron Gridley, 26, who also just completed basic training, concurred with Anderson.

“I was ready to go,” Gridley said.

For Amelia Nowon, 25, the phone call she received Tuesday from her husband was a blessing. Nowon had heard the rumblings of a potential delay, but she didn’t want to get her hopes up until it was official.

“It’s great news,” said Nowon, shopping at the local post exchange with her five children in tow.

For Kopp, the delay means a little more peace of mind in the coming months. And while she hopes future deployments continue to get pushed back, she acknowledges her husband feels differently.

“He wanted to go (in November). Especially after what happened to my brother,” she said.


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