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To the members of the National Guard:

In our Sunday editions, Stars and Stripes printed a story on President Barack Obama sending 4,000 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne to Afghanistan to work as trainers.

Pentagon reporter Jeff Schogol wrote that story. But it included these two paragraphs from The Washington Post, which I, his editor, inserted:

The extra 4,000 U.S. troops, expected to deploy in early fall, are to fill that gap. In a sign of the new importance the administration is placing on the mission, a brigade of the Army’s vaunted 82nd Airborne Division is being broken up into 10- to 14-member advisory teams, a Pentagon official said. Until now, the military has relied heavily on inexperienced National Guardsmen to fill out the teams.

"The change couldn’t be more dramatic," said John A. Nagl, a former Army officer and president of the Center for a New American Security, a nonpartisan defense think tank. "The 82nd Airborne Division is the nation’s shock force."

In looking to praise "the vaunted 82nd" and "the nation’s shock force," I inadvertently allowed the Guard to be denigrated. I’ve sent several responses to angry e-mails from Guard members in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

I want to apologize without reservation. I would have avoided all this with a more careful reading of the passage.

Very respectfully,

Patrick DicksonWashington Bureau ChiefStars and Stripes

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