BISMARCK, N.D. - About 75 Soldiers who have lived and worked in Afghanistan and Iraq for nearly a year will be home within a couple of weeks, North Dakota National Guard leadership announced today.

Gov. John Hoeven and Brig. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, the Guard's deputy adjutant general, shared the news with families and friends of the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment in Bismarck.

"It's always a great day when we can announce the safe return of our men and women in uniform, especially now as we kick off the holiday season," Hoeven said. "The Soldiers with the 1-188th Air Defense Artillery have distinguished themselves once again with this mission, and we look forward to welcoming them home with the pride and gratitude they deserve."

The Air Defense Soldiers deployed in three groups in November 2009. One group of eight Soldiers served in Iraq, where they operate the AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel Radar, which can alert short-range air-defense weapons to sites of hostile targets. A second group of 25 operates the radar in Afghanistan, and a third group of 39 in Afghanistan uses the Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment, or RAID, tower system, which incorporates sensor technology to protect forward operating bases. This was the first time North Dakota Soldiers have used the Sentinel Radar in a hostile environment, although it's the fourth time the 1-188th has deployed with the RAID system.

"Time and again, our Soldiers with the 1-188th Air Defense Artillery have proven their steadfast dedication and professionalism to this invaluable mission," Dohrmann said. "They have helped make the North Dakota patch recognizable worldwide as they protect U.S. and coalition forces from hostile attacks."

A handful of Soldiers with the 1-188th came back to the U.S. a few days ago and will out-process at Fort Hood and be home with their families soon.

The North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs Office will keep the public informed once the main group of 1-188th Soldiers arrives in the U.S., as well as when their transportation has been booked to North Dakota.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 75 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that's more than four times the national average.

Talking with Heroes with Bob Calvert interviewed Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment while they were serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Watch the videos on YouTube at