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The Gazette October 16, 2004

Carson answering call

By Tom Roeder

More than 1,000 Fort Carson soldiers from the 10th Special Forces Group will head to the Middle East this fall, several Army sources said recently.

Official Army sources are tight-lipped about deployment plans, and it could not be determined how long the 10th will be gone or where the soldiers are headed. The Special Forces soldiers have gone overseas in smaller teams throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but details of those deployments seldom have been released.

U.S. Army Special Forces Command, at Fort Bragg, N.C., traditionally has kept silent about troop movements, spokesman Maj. Rob Gowan said. The command refused to comment about the deployment Friday.

John Pike, executive director of the defense think tank GlobalSecurity.org, said the Army needs the Special Forces soldiers, or Green Berets, to deal with the insurgency in Iraq ahead of elections planned for next year.

He said the 10th Group soldiers are well-suited for such jobs as hunting down and killing guerrilla leaders.

"This is precisely the war they were designed to fight," he said.

During the occupation of Iraq, the role played by Green Berets has remained mysterious.

"You know they must be in Iraq, but you don't hear a breath about them," Pike said.

The departure of the 10th Group comes as Fort Carson sends 7,000 other soldiers to the Iraq war. About 1,800 soldiers from the 43rd Area Support Group started leaving this month. An additional 5,200 soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment will begin leaving the post in March.

The number of soldiers leaving is smaller than the 12,000 who departed in 2003 for yearlong stints in Iraq.

The departures will be offset by the addition of 3,700 soldiers who will arrive at Fort Carson next summer after yearlong Iraq tours are done. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, which had been stationed in South Korea before being sent to Iraq, was assigned to Fort Carson in September.

The Fort Carson Green Berets have been globetrotters for years, serving as peacekeepers in Bosnia starting in 1995 and as military trainers in the Republic of Georgia in 2002.

Although the destination of the 10th Group remains unknown, the highly trained soldiers could prove valuable in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Green Berets specialize in covert operations and have units loaded with linguists, snipers and intelligence specialists.

They are expert in training foreign forces, a job political and military leaders say is vital to the security of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Special Forces soldiers are also known for working to win over the communities where they fight by offering medical care and construction help.

"It's sort of an integrated counterinsurgency capability, and counterinsurgency is what we need over there," Pike said.


Copyright 2004, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information