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32nd Brigade arrives at Fort Bliss
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MONROE - The last of more than 3,200 Wisconsin National Guard troops assigned to the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which includes members from the Monroe area, arrived at Fort Bliss, Texas, over the weekend on the last major stop in their journey to Iraq.

Members of the 1158th Transportation Unit received a sendoff Feb. 18 at the Wisconsin National Guard Armory in Beloit.

According to a news release issued Monday by the Wisconsin National Guard, the weather and terrain at Fort Bliss will help the troops adjust to what awaits them in Iraq.

"During the last week of February, daily high temperatures at Fort Bliss were within a degree or two of Baghdad's. Both will get higher in the months ahead, with temperatures in central Iraq regularly exceeding 115 degrees by mid-summer," the news release said.

The soldiers received additional clothing and equipment, including the latest in body armor, and were given the weapons they will carry with them for the next year.

Their training for the next seven weeks will focus on their specific missions in Iraq.

Col. Frank Sherman said a high percentage of the troops in the 32nd Brigade are combat veterans.

Still, Sherman said their training will be rigorous and comprehensive as the troops prepare for overseas duty.

The 32nd Brigade is made up of about 3,500 Wisconsin National Guard troops. It's made up of units in 36 Wisconsin communities.

The 1158th was mobilized for stateside duty in March 2003 and was mobilized and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq from October 2004 to December 2005.

The units have been training for the past 12 months at their local armories and completed a three-week training period at Fort McCoy in 2008. The units completed a three-week training program in Florida in January.

According to the Wisconsin National Guard, this is the largest deployment of Wisconsin Guard forces since World War II.