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VILSECK, Germany — A top U.S. military official in Europe toured several bases in Germany this week to talk with family members about the return of thousands of 1st Infantry Division soldiers this spring.

In visits to Würzburg, Bamberg and Vilseck on Monday and Tuesday, V Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez talked with community members about the Army’s program to reintroduce the unit’s 12,000 deployed soldiers to life away from the war zone in Iraq. Last month he visited other 1st ID locations, including Schweinfurt and Katterbach.

V Corps is the 1st ID’s parent command.

Sanchez spoke about the soldiers’ seven-day mandatory readjustment program, the block leave period and long-term services available to returning soldiers and their families, said Amy O’Connor, a family readiness adviser who attended the Bamberg meeting on Tuesday.

She said Sanchez didn’t cover any topics that family members weren’t already familiar with, but she said it was reassuring to hear top officials pledge to take care of returning soldiers and make themselves available for questions.

“He answered a lot of questions and told us whatever the issue [that may arise] is, we’ll work through it, which was nice to hear,” O’Connor said.

Sanchez did not announce any specifics on the timing of the return for units in the 1st ID, said Capt. Jon Drake, rear detachment commander for the division’s 82nd Engineer Battalion, other than to say “everything was on track.”

Stars and Stripes was not allowed to attend a similar briefing Tuesday afternoon at Vilseck, and Army officials were tight-lipped about the meeting’s specifics.

Three people who attended the meeting and were contacted by the newspaper said the general gave the impression his comments were not for public consumption. All refused to comment further.

V Corps chief of media relations, Hilde Patton, said the Vilseck meeting was intended to be the same as the Bamberg and Würzburg briefings, but she said she could not provide information on its content, or on the appearance that its details were confidential.


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