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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The deployment of 2nd Infantry Division troops from South Korea to Iraq could serve as a model for a revamped U.S. Army, the vice president of the nonprofit Association of the United States Army, said Thursday.

Retired Lt. Gen. Theodore Stroup Jr. is visiting leaders and soldiers on the peninsula this week in part to assess how the upcoming deployment is affecting soldiers and family members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, slated to ship out in a few weeks.

Earlier this week, Stroup watched training at Rodriguez Range and visited family readiness group officials at Camp Casey, saying he was highly impressed with the programs in place to deal with both the actual mission and the effect it will have on families.

“Of all the units deployed through Iraq in the past two years, this will probably be the best-trained and best-equipped to go,” Stroup said. “This brigade will take advantage of all the lessons learned from those who went before.”

Still, Stroup said, the 2nd Brigade will face a challenge unique to any Army unit sent into Iraq. Because more than 90 percent of soldiers here are on unaccompanied tours, their families either are in South Korea without command sponsorship, back at stateside bases or at a third location.

“We are trying to figure out how we can support the Army while it deals with this new, unique family situation,” Stroup said. “We want to play a supportive role without interfering.”

Stroup is traveling with retired Command Sgt. Major Dan Thomas, who was the previous enlisted leader of the U.S. 8th Army in South Korea.

AUSA, which has 120,000 members — including civilians and current or former servicemembers of all ranks — is a nonprofit advocacy group with a goal of supporting the Army and its soldiers, according to the group’s Web site. In the recent past, the group has pushed for pay increases, improved housing and the new Army Assignment Incentive Pay program, which gives cash bonuses to soldiers who agree to extend their tours in South Korea.

In broader terms, Stroup says, the group is advocating for an increase in the percentage of the Army’s Defense budget allocation. The group is pushing for an increase from 24 percent of the total Pentagon budget to 28 percent, he said.

The Army deserves a larger share of the budget, the group believes, because it has shouldered the heaviest burdens in the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns. Part of the increased Army budget, the group says, would go to increasing the force by about 50,000 soldiers, easing the strain caused by so many recent deployments.

AUSA estimates that every 10,000 soldiers added to the Army requires an additional $1.2 billion in individual training and equipment.

Stroup, who retired in 1996, served two tours in South Korea, one with the 7th Infantry Division in 1962 and a second with an engineer battalion at Camp Humphreys in 1972.


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