Those interested in learning more about the conflict in Iraq and the role that Europe-based soldiers have played in it should circle their calendars now.

U.S. Army Europe’s Land Combat Expo 2004 not only will feature a star-studded array of speakers, but will showcase some of the equipment and soldiers who have spent time in the desert.

“People can come in and see the equipment we’re using to perform our missions,” said Maj. Tammy McKenna, one of those planning the Sept. 28-30 exposition at Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg, Germany.

And those attending — all U.S. military identification card holders and their guests are eligible — have a chance to hear from dozens of soldiers who have served in Iraq. McKenna said there will be several sessions featuring soldiers who fought in specific engagements in Iraq. They’ll talk about the fights, the lessons they learned and the training and procedures that have resulted. Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division and Southern European Task Force (Airborne) will be among those talking. Visitors to the exhibition will have a chance to ask them questions.

That’s also the case for the high-profile appearances of some of the military’s top leaders. Marine Gen. James L. Jones and Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the European Command and Central Command commanders respectively, are scheduled to speak. So are Gen. B.B. Bell, the USAREUR commander, and Lt. Gen. William Wallace and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who led V Corps and Coalition Joint Task Force 7 efforts in Iraq. Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the 1st AD commander, and Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the 4th Infantry Division commander, also are included in the list of speakers.

In addition to American participation, NATO allies Great Britain, Germany, Poland and Italy are all set to display equipment or field booths.

Current equipment and technology won’t be the only focuses, though. Some of the gadgetry the military is hoping to field in the future also will be on display. Included among that will be the next line of Meals, Ready to Eat that visitors will be able to sample.

The exhibition is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each of the three days. Admission is free.

McKenna said there will be more vendors and displays this year and attendance is also expected to rise from previous years.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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