Days after returning from a whirlwind tour of Southwest Asia during the Thanksgiving weekend, Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss offered his prediction for how President Barack Obama’s revamped Afghanistan war strategy will affect Georgia troops.
Last week, Chambliss visited Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of a delegation consisting of Georgia Congressmen Tom Price, R-Roswell, Lynn Westmoreland, R-Sharpsburg, and John Barrow, D-Savannah. The group’s busy itinerary included spending Thanksgiving with members of the 48th Brigade of the Georgia National Guard and meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan.
Chambliss said the troops were grateful to their lawmakers for traveling half a world away to break bread with them Thursday.
“And gosh what a humbling experience to have a soldier tell you they appreciate you making a sacrifice just to come, when the sacrifice they make every single day is just so much greater than anything we could do,” the Republican said.
The senator said Tuesday prior to Obama’s address that he was confident a gradual troop increase would be part of the president’s plan for Afghanistan. Asked how an increased force of about 30,000 soldiers could affect active duty, reserve and guard soldiers across his state, Chambliss said that initially it shouldn’t.
“The 3rd ID is stretched thin right now,” Chambliss said. “They’re already back in Iraq, so realistically trying to think of ... Fort Stewart being affected right now they can’t be any more affected than what they are today.”
The senator said it is possible that unit’s like the 3rd Infantry Division could be redeployed to Afghanistan should the situation in Iraq allow for an expedited exit. The additional troops needed to deploy to Afghanistan in the coming year will more likely come from other military installations across the country, Chambliss said.
“They obviously will be primarily Army and Marine Corps,” he said. “You’re going to see the guard and reserve continue to be activated and utilized to a great extent, but it won’t be coming from Georgia again. So Georgia’s military situation will be affected in that we continually rotate soldiers into and out of both Iraq and Afghanistan, sometimes in big numbers like the 48th Brigade and the 3rd ID, sometimes in smaller numbers like a reserve unit out of Dobbins that’s in Afghanistan right now. So, we will be affected but not with bigger numbers than what you’re seeing right now from the standpoint of Fort Stewart, Fort Benning and the National Guard.”