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HEIDELBERG, Germany — The commander of the 1st Infantry Division has returned to Germany after leading Army logistics efforts in Turkey for the past two months.

Maj. Gen. John Batiste returned this week, 1st ID spokesman Capt. Bill Coppernoll confirmed Friday.

Still uncertain, however, is the fate of some 3,500 U.S. troops originally dispatched to Turkey to pave they way for an air and ground attack into northern Iraq.

While the Turkish parliament eventually vetoed those plans, those forces may still be put to good use. In addition to the U.S. air hub at Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, the Air Force had dispatched crews to improve airfields at Batman and Diyarbakir near the NATO ally’s eastern frontier with Iraq.

Meanwhile, troops from Batiste’s 1st ID, as well as the Germany-based 21st Theater Support Command, established a series of logistics steppingstones from seaports in the Mediterranean.

Marine Gen. James Jones, commander of U.S. forces in Europe, recently told Stars and Stripes that he planned to leave some of the logistics troops in place.

“You never know what could happen,” he said.

Some of those troops are now helping organize a supply pipeline of food, fuel and water for combat units flying into northern Iraq by air.

Meanwhile, with the war effort quickly wrapping up, Turkey could provide staging grounds for peacekeeping forces that will eventually be needed to stabilize post-war Iraq, military officials say.


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