POSTED: Monday, October 17, 2011 - 5:28pm
UPDATED: Monday, October 17, 2011 - 10:26pm
FORT BLISS- Thousands of Fort Bliss soldiers serving in Iraq will come home sooner than expected.
Fort Bliss says the homecoming stems from a 2008 agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi governments, to end combat operations by December 31, 2011.
Lt. Col. Dennis Swanson says the fort knew that was possible for troops to come home early, but it didn’t want to create false hope.
"Initially we told them 12 months, just to not get their hopes of the families up. This is best case scenario because we have two battalions coming home. We have one battalion whose already got orders, and the other one awaiting orders. It's great for the families, great for Fort Bliss, great for El Paso because we are getting our soldiers have early,” said Lt. Col. Swanson.
Just because the soldiers are coming home, Lt. Col. Swanson says only combat operations will end, but other U.S military personnel will remain in Iraq.
"Will all of our support to Iraq end? No, that will continue through the State Department, military trainers and advisers from military equipment they purchased from us in the last several years,” said Lt. Col. Swanson.
Alexander Perry owns a restaurants outside of Fort Bliss. Perry says his business always suffers when the troops are gone.
"We can tell exactly when they leave, when they come back. There is always huge business or not that good business. We can tell right away,” said Perry.
More than 75 percent of his business comes from soldiers at Fort Bliss, and when soldiers come home it fills his tables.
"It is going to help us a lot. First of all, most of them have been to Germany, so they know my type of food. I'm happy they are coming back,” said Perry.
It’s important to note that our troops will be returning only from Iraq. This homecoming does not include the Fort Bliss soldiers who recently left for Afghanistan serving a nine month tour of duty.