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Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston is completing a four-day tour of Iraq in which he visited units throughout the region to meet with soldiers and hear their concerns, officials said Thursday.

The visit began Saturday with a visit to soldiers assigned to Multi-National Division-Baghdad. Throughout the trip, Preston has been holding question-and-answer sessions that have been closed to the media.

According to a U.S. Army news release, Preston visited troops at locations including Camp Taji, Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah, FOB Kalsu and FOB Iskandariyah.

According to the release, the most-repeated questions from soldiers included “How long are we going to be in Iraq?” and “Will the length of the deployment decrease?”

“I don’t know,” he was quoted as telling soldiers at Camp Taji. “I have a little crystal ball on my desk about the size of a marble. So far, it hasn’t lit up and told me anything yet.”

“If we could go to something less than a year, we would do that. As we reduce the troop strength here, we may be able to reduce the deployment time. … With the number of Soldiers we have, we cannot reduce the length of the deployment right now.”

Preston also visited soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, which has recently been dealing with a pair of high-profile incidents: the kidnapping and killing of two of its troops, and the federal and military court cases against four soldiers and a former soldier charged with rape and murder.


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