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Posted: January 19, 2012 2:34 p.m.

Ft. Stewart troops head to Afghanistan

FORT STEWART, Ga. (AP) - The commanding general of Fort Stewart's 3rd Infantry said Thursday he will deploy along with 700 soldiers by late summer to Afghanistan, a new war zone for the Georgia-based Army division that served multiple tours in Iraq.

Maj. Gen. Robert A. Abrams and his headquarters battalion are expected to leave in August. Fort Stewart officials said they will spend a year overseeing the military's Regional Command South, one of four regional commands in Afghanistan.

Abrams, who planned a news conference Thursday afternoon, said in a statement that his troops "are diligently preparing for the new opportunities and challenges that we will face."

"I am fully confident in our abilities to accomplish this new deployment mission," the general said.

Earlier this month the Pentagon tapped two additional Fort Stewart battalions to serve in Afghanistan, bringing the total number of the Georgia post's troops slated for deployments to about 2,200. That's still a small portion of the 3rd Infantry's overall manpower of more than 19,000 soldiers.

It's the first time ground troops from the Fort Stewart division have faced tours of duty in Afghanistan - a shift in missions prompted by the recent withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, where the 3rd Infantry deployed four times between the 2003 invasion and 2010.

In fact, Abrams and his command battalion where scheduled to return to Iraq last November. The Army scrapped those plans after President Barack Obama announced he was pulling out all U.S. troops by the end of 2011.

The general's group is scheduled to deploy a few months after two other Fort Stewart battalions arrive in Afghanistan.

About 800 troops from the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, are to leave in February and will provide security for other military units tasked with improving stability in Afghan villages.

In April, about 700 Fort Stewart soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment are scheduled to follow. They will join with members of a Stryker armored-vehicle brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., that is conducting counter-insurgency operations and helping train Afghan security forces.

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