By Mr. Paul Boyce (FORSCOM)October 19, 2007
The Department of the Army today joined the Department of Defense in announcing Oct. 19 the alert of seven Army National Guard Brigade Combat Teams and one Army National Guard Fires Brigade for planned rotations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
More than 20,000 Army National Guard Soldiers are being notified by the Army to prepare for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. These units are being informed in advance to provide them the opportunity to plan, conduct world-class training, and to provide some degree of predictability for the Citizen-Soldiers, their Families and their respective employers.
The "Jersey Blues" - the 50th Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the New Jersey Army National Guard, based at Fort Dix - includes units from across the state. The brigade is expected to mobilize in May 2008 and deploy to Iraq in autumn 2008. This will be the brigade's first deployment in support of the Global War on Terror.
The 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is headquartered at Fort Ruger, Hawaii, and includes units from across Hawaii and Arizona. The brigade is expected to mobilize in June 2008 and deploy to Iraq in autumn 2008. The "Lava Brigade" served in Iraq from January through December of 2005.
The 56th Brigade Combat Team of the 36th Infantry Division includes units from across Texas. The "Thunderbolt Brigade" is expected to mobilize in July 2008 and deploy to Iraq in autumn 2008. The brigade last deployed to Iraq from December 2004 through December 2005.
The "Ravens" of Washington's 81st Heavy Brigade Combat Team are based in Seattle, Washington, and includes units from Washington and California. It is expected to mobilize in August 2008 and deploy to Iraq in autumn 2008. The brigade last deployed to Iraq from March 2004 through March 2005.
Tracing their lineage to the Associated Regiment of Foot founded by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia in 1747, "The Associators" of the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, are headquartered in Philadelphia. They are expected to mobilize in November 2008 and deploy to Iraq in early 2009. The brigade, which includes units from across Pennsylvania, is the only Stryker Brigade Combat Team in the Army National Guard, and one of just seven in the Army. This will be the brigade's first deployment as a unit, although small units from the brigade have previously deployed in support of operation Iraqi Freedom.
The 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the North Carolina Army National Guard, based in Clinton, includes units from North Carolina and West Virginia. "Old Hickory" will mobilize in January 2009 and deploy to Iraq in spring 2009. The brigade last deployed to Iraq from February 2004 through February 2005.
The 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Decatur, Illinois, will mobilize in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in August 2008. The "Prairie" Brigade is expected to deploy in autumn 2008 to Afghanistan, where it will train the Afghan National Army. In January 2002, one of the brigade's battalions mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and deployed to Germany to provide force protection at U.S. facilities across Europe.
In addition to the seven BCTs, Oklahoma's 45th Fires Brigade, based in Enid, is also scheduled to deploy to Iraq. It includes units from Oklahoma and Utah. "Red Thunder" is expected to mobilize in June 2008 and deploy to Iraq in autumn 2008 where it will augment the 29th IBCT in its assigned mission. The 45th Fires Brigade deployed two battalions to Iraq in 2003.
While Regular Army units deploy for up to 15-month tours, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates directed in January that reserve component units would mobilize for no longer than one year and that they would train and deploy as cohesive units.
Two of the brigades - the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team and the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team - will operate as Brigade Combat Teams, responsible for conducting full-spectrum operations in an assigned battlespace. Four of the brigades - the 56th BCT of the 36th Infantry Division, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 81st HBCT and 45th Fires - will contribute to the security force responsible for ensuring freedom of movement and continuity of operations across the country. These tasks include base defense and route security. The 50th HBCT will support detention operations at sites throughout Iraq.
The National Guard has responded to every call for forces, already having mobilized more than 285,000 Soldiers. Each time the National Guard has been called upon, they have responded with proven and capable warriors. These outstanding Citizen-Soldiers, their Family members and employers continue to make great sacrifices for our country and they acknowledge and appreciate the continued support of the American people.
"We recognize the commitment and increasing sacrifices that our Families are making every day," said Secretary of the Army Mr. Pete Geren. "We recognize the strength of our Soldiers comes from the strength of their Families. The American Soldier and the Army Family - our All Volunteer Force - are a national treasure. Truly, the strength of our Nation!"
The case-by-case selection of Army National Guard forces honors worldwide commitments and provides combatant commanders the forces they need to maintain the current momentum in support of operations in Iraq.
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Media questions specific to the units being alerted should be referred to their unit public affairs officers. For more information, contact Maj. Thomas McCuin at (703) 614-2459.