Deployment To Include Local National Guard
Area citizen-soldiers of the Iowa National Guard have been told them become part of the largest unit mobilization to take place since World War II. The call-up alert for possible deployment in the fall of 2010 includes Guard units from Estherville, Spencer, Storm Lake, Sheldon, Algona and Le Mars. All-told, around 3,500 soldiers across Iowa, who are part of the Second Brigade of the 34th Infantry Division, received their alert notification over the weekend of Oct. 16, according to Guard spokesman Maj. Michael Wunn. The formal announcement of the mobilization was made Tuesday. Oct 20.
All told, 57 units from over 30 Iowa communities received alerts to support the potential deployment. Guard Brig. Gen. Tim Orr pointed out that some elements of the brigade may not be mobilized, if they have recently been deployed.
An additional 500 Guard soldiers from four other Iowa National Guard units will also be included in the mobilization.
“This is an alert at this point for potential mobilization in the fall of 2010,” Major Wunn explained. “The process over the weekend was just to alert those soldiers and those families so they knew about it. Then we provided the information to the public.”
Under the announced plans, the unit will mobilized for up to 12 months, with most of the deployment being served in Afghanistan.
“The mission they have been tasked with at this point is a training mission of the Afghan National Security Forces and that involves training the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police,” Major Wunn said.
In the upcoming year, the Iowa soldiers will begin their transition through a series of training sessions designed to prepare for the deployment.
The soldiers will receive the equipment they need for the potential mobilization, as well as undergo medical evaluations and immunizations during that time.
“At the same time as they’re doing this, they’re starting to do their initial training requirements they have for their mobilization,” Major Wunn said. “That will culminate with their annual training period next summer.”
As the time for deployment nears, the soldiers will spend six to eight weeks at a remote, mobilization station in the fall of 2010 before actually being sent to Afghanistan.
While the citizen-soldiers are preparing for their deployments, their families are also preparing, in different ways. A system of family readiness groups, comprised of guard families, tries to assist their fellow families with the transition.
“We try to provide information and training to families so they know how to prepare themselves,” Wunn said. “These family readiness groups also provide a support network for the families back home” during deployment.
Wunn said the advance notice also gives employers enough time to prepare for the extended absence of an employee.
“It’s really beneficial for everyone to have this much lead time to get ready,” Wunn said. “In the past, that hasn’t always happened. Early on, during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan when we were getting called up, sometimes our units had just weeks to get ready and depart. Since 2007 there has been a lot more predictability and a lot more lead time provided to units before they are actually deployed.”
Between 11,000 and 12,000 Iowa Guard soldiers and airmen have been mobilized since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“The soldiers that are members of the National Guard today are there because they volunteered,” Wunn said. “They volunteered knowing that a deployment at some point in their career was inevitable. We expect, as members of the National Guard that we are going to be deployed one year in every five years. We have soldiers who are very dedicated and many of these soldiers have deployed a couple of times, if not three times and this may be a fourth deployment for some of them. Though it is a hardship on them and their families at times, they still continue to serve and serve proudly.”