Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mississippi National Guard put on alert...

The Mississippi Army National Guard was put on alert yesterday for another possible deployment according to Major General Harold Cross.

"A Mississippi Army National Guard brigade made up of nearly 3,500 soldiers was put on alert Monday that it could deploy to Iraq for the second time as early as 2009.

It would be the second tour of duty for hundreds of Mississippians in the 155th Brigade Combat Team. The soldiers spent most of 2005 in Iraq during the largest deployment of Mississippi National Guard soldiers since World War II.

That deployment affected nearly the entire state, drawing soldiers from at least 49 different communities. About half of those soldiers remain in the brigade, said Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, Mississippi's adjutant general.

Cross told The Associated Press on Monday that the Department of Defense issued an alert, not a mobilization order, which would have meant deployment was imminent.

"This is a heads up to start getting ready, that we may need you sometime in the summer of 2009 or later," Cross said. "This is the first phase to let them know that they are scheduled for deployment in the future."

The likelihood that the brigade will be sent to Iraq depends on the situation there when the time comes, Cross said. The alert directs more money and equipment to the unit for training.

It's difficult to know exactly how many members in the 155th would deploy for the second time. About 50 percent of the soldiers already have left the brigade, and another 15 percent to 20 percent likely will have been lost to attrition by 2009, Cross said. Recruitment in the Mississippi National Guard recently has picked up after a dip following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

"We'll have quite a number of soldiers, senior officers and senior NCOs (noncommissioned officers) who have been in combat before," Cross said. "But we'll have quite a number of new soldiers who have never been in combat if we do deploy in 2009."

The deployment of such a large group of Guard soldiers creates unique challenges at home for employers and families who sometimes have to adjust to less income.

Among those who deployed with the 155th the first time were: Leslie Southwick, a former state judge who since has been elevated to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, a sheriff, public school principals and teachers and dozens of police officers and firefighters.

Southwick is still in the Guard, a Guard spokeswoman said, but it was not clear if he would deploy again. He did not immediately respond to a message left Monday at his home.

National Guard brigades from Oregon and Wisconsin also were put on alert Monday for duty in Iraq. Brigades from Florida and Georgia were told to prepare for Afghanistan. In all, the alerts affect about 8,000 men and women, the Defense Department said.

The soldiers headed to Iraq will train for "security force" missions like defending bases and guarding convoys. However, it is difficult to know exactly how the soldiers will be used so far in advance. Conditions on the battlefield are constantly changing, and the military is forced to adapt.

"The Department of Defense is trying its best to give units as much advance notice as possible for obvious reasons - the equipment resetting and training - but also to let families and employers know as far in advance as possible," Cross said.

Col. Bill Glasgow, commander of the 155th, said the soldiers have been in continuous training and will be prepared for anything that comes their way. Like many others in the 155th, Glasgow already has been to Iraq.

"They did a tremendous job" in the first deployment, Glasgow said. "These are great soldiers.""

That hurt in my heart is back. That is the worst feeling and it is so hard to explain. 2009 is a long way away, and a lot of changes to be made I am sure in 2008. So until then, I will stay calm. No sense is worrying about something that is not 100% yet. We will take it one day at a time.

Last night I was looking back at some of my earlier post and there were a few that jumped out at me.

Very first entry

The Day

Best Christmas Present Ever


Army Wife said...

prayers.....said from our home to yours..

Wayne's Mom said...

We're all still one big family, aren't we?

Big hugs,

NannyKaren said...

My heart aches for you stacey. I have a grandson that was supposed to be home from Iraq on the 3rd. So far, he hasn't made it back. I sure hope he can put his feet on the ground of the USA soon!

I have watched you grow since I discovered your blog...
Love and prayers always.


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