This week’s Land Combat Expo will feature much more than cool toys and speeches by generals.

Participants at the expo — scheduled for Wednesday through Friday at Patrick Henry Village Pavilion in Heidelberg, Germany — can also listen to colleagues discuss changing tactics in the war on terrorism, attend seminars on the military family, meet soldiers from other nations and learn about the newest high-tech downrange gear.

“We are very excited about this event,” said Maj. Bill Stewart, expo project officer. “This is a chance for the soldiers to pat their own back and say, ‘You guys and gals have been doing a great job.’ ”

More than 10,000 attendees are expected, many of them soldiers encouraged to be there by some not-so-subtle nudging from Gen. B.B. Bell, the U.S. Army Europe commander, who sent a memo to managers and commanders last month asking for “maximum participation” from soldiers.

Bell is also the event’s opening speaker on Wednesday. Other speakers include Polish Lt. Gen. Edward Pietryzk, who will address the international perspective on the war on terror, and Barry McCaffrey, a retired U.S. Army general who will give a strategic assessment of the war.

Several smaller seminars — presented by different units — will discuss a new topic this year: lessons learned in the war on terrorism. Other seminars will discuss another hot topic: the well-being of military families.

Lt. Col. Chris DeLaRosa, a member of the Joint and Multinational Readiness Group in Hohenfels, Germany, will lead a session on lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will also discuss how soldiers can be effective by using non-lethal means and how they can maximize intelligence to be more precise on the battlefield.

“The [global war on terrorism] has changed the way the Army operates,” he said. “The environment has increased in complexity with many other players on the battlefield.”

Author John Covey will conduct seminars Thursday on teenagers, families and how to improve marriages.

The event will also be attended by servicemembers from England, Germany, Poland and Italy. Other international guests will come from Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Norway.

“We are really wrapping our arms around the fact that we have coalition partners and we have to go to combat with them and train them,” Stewart said.

USAREUR spokesman Bob Purtiman said the event may give soldiers an international perspective on the war on terror.

“It’s a chance for them to learn what other nations’ militaries are up to,” he said.

And those who came for the toys won’t be disappointed. The event will feature more than 60 vehicles and pieces of equipment. They will include a Stryker vehicle; Britain’s Challenger 2 tank; and Germany’s chemical detection device called “the Fox.”

Attendees can also inspect smaller items. A slew of exhibitors, including CamelBak, Gerber Blades, Blackhawk and Essgoggles, will promote their newest wares, which include high-tech sunglasses, knives, tricked-out gun holsters, sleeping bags and more.

Stewart said the event promises to be both an educational and fun experience for all.

“Soldiers are typically dragged on the bus to go here,” he said, “But after three days, they have to be dragged back on to the bus to leave. I anticipate this year, it will be much harder to get the soldiers to leave. There is just so much good stuff going on.”

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