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Chaplain (Col.) Michael Hoyt, USAREUR command chaplain.
Chaplain (Col.) Michael Hoyt, USAREUR command chaplain. (Charlie Coon / S&S)

Religion is playing a large role in the war in Iraq.

Many Shiite and Sunni Muslims are fighting for control of territories and the emerging Iraqi government. Many U.S. troops are turning to their faiths to help them deal with the challenges of deployment.

Starting next month, Chaplain (Col.) Michael Hoyt will try to leverage faith as a tool toward reaching peace, and peace of mind, in the war-torn nation.

Hoyt, 53, currently the U.S. Army Europe command chaplain, has been tabbed to be the next command chaplain for Multi-National Forces-Iraq.

There, he will serve as the principal adviser to Army Gen. George Casey, the MNF-Iraq commander, on the diplomatic and strategic implications of religion as it affects the force’s campaign plan.

“I am pretty humbled to be even considered to work at that level,” Hoyt said in a telephone interview from his office in Heidelberg, Germany. “I’m honored to have the opportunity, and glad to be able to continue to contribute to the country and to the chaplains’ corps in particular.”

Hoyt will succeed Chaplain (Col.) Lilton Marks, who is taking an assignment with the Installation Management Agency in the U.S.

The new USAREUR command chaplain will be Col. Don Rutherford, currently the 18th Airborne Corps chaplain in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Hoyt, a married father of three children, said he expected to be flying to Iraq sometime in early May to start his new assignment.

He will be based at MNF-Iraq headquarters at Camp Victory in Baghdad, as well as at offices in the downtown Green Zone, he said.

Hoyt said he expects to work with the various religious leaders in Iraq toward a peaceful, sustainable resolution to the conflict there.

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