Wyden, Merkley Deliver Good News during Visit Today with Iraq-Bound Oregon Troops Training in Georgia

Fort Stewart, GA – During a visit today with Oregon
National Guard troops bound for Iraq next month, Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and
Jeff Merkley announced that the Department of Defense has reversed an earlier
order and agreed to keep the Oregon soldiers under their Oregon commanders.

“Oregon soldiers and their Oregon commanders have trained
together and they deserve to serve together,” Wyden said today. “To do
anything else would have diminished their cohesiveness, undermined their
effectiveness and dampened morale. I give great credit to Secretary Gates and
to the Department of Defense for recognizing that this is a cohesive unit that
has come to rely and trust in each other.”

“I was very impressed by the readiness and skills of the
Oregon soldiers we visited today.  They are well-prepared for their
mission ahead, but it is gratifying to know that they will continue to serve
under their Oregon commanders,” said Merkley. “Strong unit cohesion
and camaraderie is critical to their success and the Department of Defense made
the right decision to keep the Oregon soldiers reporting to the officers they
have trained under and served with.”

 The Department of Defense had originally ordered the nearly
3,000 members of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Brigade to be
broken up into more than 20 smaller units and attached to other active U.S.
Army Brigades under different commanders. Wyden wrote a letter to Secretary of
Defense Robert Gates last September protesting the order and arguing the
benefits of keeping the 41st under their Oregon commanders

Wyden and Merkley flew to Fort Stewart in Georgia today to
visit with troops and commanders of the 41st Brigade and observe
training exercises. The 41st Brigade has been in Georgia for a
month. Deployment to Iraq is scheduled for early July.