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Mideast edition, Saturday, September 1, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — It’s official: The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division will be home for the holidays.

The move means that troops in one company, which returned from Iraq in February, will get their full 12 months of time at home, or dwell time.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has signed the orders moving the Baumholder, Germany-based unit’s arrival date in Iraq from November to March, a military official said.

The news came to no surprise to troops in Baumholder, who first heard of the change on July 31 from their commanders after hearing rumors about the delay.

“Once we started hearing the rumors about a delay, we all pretty much knew,” said Pfc. Chris Warth of 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry’s Company B.

Troops said the extra time will allow the brigade to be more prepared for their March deployment.

“We need the time to train,” said Pfc. Charles Langley, also from Company B.

In May, the Defense Department announced that 10 Army units would head to Iraq this year, including the Baumholder brigade.

At the time, the Army said each unit would get their full 12 months of dwell time, but an alert reader from Baumholder saw the story and e-mailed Stars and Stripes that one company would only get nine months at home.

Troops with the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, Company A had been attached to another brigade during their last tour in Iraq and arrived home later than the rest of the 2nd BCT, 1st AD.

When the story broke, a DOD spokesman initially said U.S. Army Europe had asked the brigade to delay the company’s deployment until it got its full respite.

But over the subsequent weeks, it became clear that USAREUR and the Defense Department were not on the same page; in June, USAREUR announced the company would deploy early, even though USAREUR had not applied for a waiver to the Army’s interim policy on dwell time.

Asked about the USAREUR statement, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace reiterated that no unit could be deployed with less than 12 months of dwell time without a waiver signed by Gates.

The next month, Brigade Commander Col. Robert P. White let families know that the entire brigade’s deployment had been moved to March.

Stars and Stripes reporter John Vandiver contributed to this report.


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