CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ind., - It started
as a campaign promise, and in his State of the Union Address, it became
In the speech, President Barack Obama stated that the withdrawal of combat
troops from Iraq will be accomplished by the end of August.
"As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its
people," said Obama. "As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war,
and that is what I am doing as president. We will have our combat troops out
of Iraq by the end of August of this year."
With the mission at Camp Atterbury being the training, mobilization and
de-mobilization of troops, the question becomes, how does this affect
It is a simple question with a variety of answers.
Lt. Col. Timothy D. Holtke, director of Personnel and Community Affairs
here, said the primary impact from the return of combat troops from Iraq
will be an increase in demobilizations of these units at Camp Atterbury.
"First Army looks at all the mobilization sites and the present balance; how
many folks they have mobilizing and demobilizing. They will redirect units
to mobilization sites that do not have heavy workloads. Right now we are
running at about half capacity," said Holtke. So based on present
populations at Camp Atterbury, 1st Army could direct units here for
The simple fact is, Iraq is not the only destination for troops mobilized
from Camp Atterbury, nor is it the source of demobilizing troops.
Afghanistan will still be a destination for personnel mobilized through Camp
Atterbury as well as other parts of the world.
"We have KFOR, we have civilian missions that go around the world and the
Horn of Africa," said Holtke.
Iraq and Afghanistan are only part of the overall mission.
Any policy change that effects deployments will likely have an impact here,
said Col. Barry Richmond, deputy commander for Camp Atterbury Muscatatuck
Center for Complex Operations.
"Many of the folks, who have been deploying recently, have been going to
Afghanistan," he said. "There was a surge for Afghanistan to help build the
Afghan national forces, which includes Afghan police and army forces. Even
without Iraq as part of the equation, Camp Atterbury has been very busy as
"The specifics remain unknown at this point. But just because one theater is
winding down, that does not mean that operations here will be winding down
"We have never been focused on one theater. This provides us with
opportunities to adjust our business practices to better align with our
This follows the principle of supply and demand, Richmond said.
While the demand for mobilizing combat troops may decline, the need for our
other services and supporting civilian initiatives will continue and grow,
"We have Soldier readiness processing," Richmond said. "Now we have what I
call civilian readiness processing. The experience and expertise we've
developed lends itself very well to consider and expand on these new
missions of preparing civilians to go over in the employment of our national
Richmond said there will also be opportunities to develop homeland security
support. Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center are unique
training environments for bringing diverse government agencies together to
train for disaster response.
And then there is the traditional role of Camp Atterbury, which is training.
As units shift from deployment they will resume training.
Richmond said Camp Atterbury will continue to provide training resources to
reserve components and active units.
At the end of the day, or in this case the end of a war, there will be long
term effects from the withdrawal for troops from Iraq, Guard officials said.
But instead of things slowing down here, doors open to new challenges that
require the expertise of the Soldiers and civilian employees of Camp
"We respond to mission changes, and that's all this is," said Richmond.