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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 25, 2003

Schofield deployment: high hopes and qualms

Deployment, of course, is the point. The 25th Infantry Division hasn't been stationed at Schofield Barracks all these years to defend Wahiawa. "Readiness" is the byword for every soldier in the division as it prepares for deployment.

That day will come soon. The Army has announced that about half of Schofield's 15,000 active-duty personnel will participate in a badly needed troop rotation in Afghanistan next year. But not all at the same time: About 3,500 soldiers with helicopters and artillery will deploy in February, to be replaced by another Schofield brigade of equal strength six months later.

These two units are lucky in a couple of ways: They have enough advance notice to get their affairs in order and resettle families if needed; and their tours will be limited to six months and not somewhat open-ended, as some soldiers in the 3rd Infantry Division have found in and near Iraq.

These soldiers will be missed here. Merchants, especially in the Schofield area, are understandably worried.

Their absence will be noted in more subtle ways globally. Koreans and Japanese who know the 25th Division's chief mission is backup for a Korean emergency will see that the U.S. military has been stretched, by action in Iraq and Afghanistan, a bit too thin to maintain the full reserve complement here.

Afghanistan, you'll recall, is not a walk in the park. We have every confidence that the men and women involved will perform with the expected Tropic Lightning skill and honor. And we want all of them back safely.