Well, it looks like we're not coming home any earlier than expected. We were supposed to get an "official notice" on when we'll be redeploying, but the only information that has come out is when we're supposed to start sending our first wave of people home.Going back to the States is somewhat of an inexact science. This procedure takes as long as three months to complete (including our equipment) and is broken up into several different segments. So, when I will be back on the ground at Ft. Campbell has yet to be determined. The entire 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) is scheduled to have everyone back sometime by mid-January; yet, even this has no definitive date (as you can see).
The first group to start heading home is called the ADVON party, and they're responsible for getting back so that they can begin to receive all the equipment and personnel coming back after them. They should be leaving sometime at the beginning of November (No, I'm not part of this crew).
After these individuals have gone through their re-acclimation training, as well as their maximum 30 day block leave, they will begin their responsibilities (which will be sometime in mid December).
Back here in Iraq, the rest of the unit will begin receiving and training the incoming unit on our what they will be doing for the next year. This is commonly referred to as "right seat rides". Essentially, our counterparts will observe us on our daily operations for 7-10 days and then take over, while we observe them for roughly the same time period and provide our suggestions and commentaries. Upon completion of this, soldiers will be packing their bags and heading back. However, we will have a brief layover (about 3-5 days) in Kuwait before crossing the Atlantic. I also need to mention that we are at the mercury of high flying, get the job done (on their time) United States Air Force, who has black out days on either side of Christmas and New Year's. So, from 24-26 Dec and 31 Dec - 2 Jan, we just have to hang out wherever we're until they're ready to fly us to our next destination. As of right now, my unit is scheduled to leave Iraq on 31 Dec, which pretty much means 3 Jan!!! On top of that, our days on the ground in Kuwait consist of going through customs, which means they'll check all of our belongings to make sure we're not smuggling anything from Iraq. Upon completion of this phase, we'll proceed with our trip back to the motherland.
Although this may sound somewhat structured and organized, I have been assured by many that it's not. One long, tedious, mind-numbing process that nips at your patience and sanity. What is more, if things go awry at any point in the process, such as another string of violence, we could be extended until things subside. This doesn't seem to be likely at this point, but Lord only knows.So, despite all this information, I still can't tell you when I'll be back. I'm pretty sure it will be sometime in the beginning or mid part of January, but I can say for certain that it won't be in November!