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Cats Transported, Fed and Quartered
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 08/11/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Aug. 11, 2010

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz.--The University of Arizona football team arrived at this sprawling Army post nestled against the Huachuca Mountains Wednesday evening to continue its fall camp among many specialists training for duties defending the front lines abroad.

The team traveled the 70 miles by buses from Tucson and were greeted by Maj. Gen. John M. Custer III, a two-star commanding general of the United States Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca, and other officers along with personnel of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation outfit which helps UA by providing some of its facilities during the excursion.

The team ate dinner at the Thunder Mountain Activity Center on post and then were off to a few hours of spare time in barracks lodging before lights out.

Custer, who will retire in a month after more than three decades of service, spoke to the team briefly before dinner, chiding Coach Mike Stoops gently for slipping up and calling the facility a 'base.' "I'm the only one here who can correct Coach Stoops, but in the Army, sir, they're posts," Custer said.

UA will hold two-a-days tomorrow, a single practice Friday, one on Saturday morning and a scrimmage Saturday evening at Buena High School in nearby Sierra Vista. The team opened fall camp last Thursday in Tucson, but Stoops has now brought three teams to the Fort because of its obvious strong commitment to unity. The team will return to Tucson on Sunday.

Players will be afforded an opportunity to complete a Leadership Reaction Course and test their thinking processes further in an Engagement Skills Training weapons simulator, and Garrison Commander Col. Timothy Faulkner suggested to some UA officials that he could bring an explosives-sniffing specialist -- a German shepherd -- to a practice to illustrate the valuable animals' proficiency at security.

Tanja Linton, a post specialist who's helping supervise some facets of the team's visit, said most of the dogs, many who have seen duty overseas in Afghanistan or Iraq, outrank their handlers.

The trip gives team members a different view of the world around them, to be certain, mingling with human- or signals intelligence specialists and soldiers preparing for or returning from war zones. Preseason camp is pretty much business, but the things going on here are decidedly more serious.

Quick Vid: Cats Arrive on Post

Reporter Billy Witz of the New York Times was on hand when the team arrived. He's an acquaintance of Stoops and planned a piece on the synergy between the football squad and the Army personnel. Arizona is one of the few, if not the only Division I team, to conduct part of its preseason camp on an Army post.

-Tom Duddleston Jr.

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