FORT IRWIN • U.S. Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon and a delegation of five House Armed Services Committee members will be paying a visit to the National Training Center and other military installations within his district later this week.

McKeon, who represents Barstow and was appointed committee chairman in December, will tour Fort Irwin Thursday morning with Democratic ranking committee member Rep. Adam Smith of Washington and other Congressional representatives. The tour is designed to introduce other committee members to the operations at Fort Irwin and the other installations, said committee spokesman Josh Holly.

The congressional delegation will include U.S. Reps. Loretta Sanchez, D-California, Joe Courtney, D-Connecticut, Mark Critz, D-Pennsylvania, and Scott Rigell, R-Virginia. Rigell was elected to Congress in December.

The delegation will also visit Joint Base Lewis-McChord, an Army post and Air Force base near the Pugit Sound, and the Naval Submarine Base at Bangor, Wash. Both installations are located within Washington's 9th Congressional District, which Smith represents.

McKeon's visit to the training center will come less than a week after Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. toured the installation Saturday. The delegation will meet with Brig. Gen. Robert Abrams, the training center's commanding general, as well as Command Sgt. Maj. Nathan Buckner, Holly said. The representatives will also tour a replica Afghan village and meet with soldiers from Hawaii who are training there.

"I think most (committee) members understand the importance of these installations, especially the National Training Center," Holly said. "It's a valuable resource for training military personnel prior to deployment. It's the most lifelike urban training that you're going to receive."

Holly said McKeon, Smith and the other representatives will visit a striker brigade at Fort Lewis as well as the strategic air lift squadron at the McChord Air Force Base.

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