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Indiana National Guard training here
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After a big sendoff Wednesday in Indianapolis, soldiers of the Indiana National Guard will be heading for the ranges and training areas of Fort Stewart today to prep for deployment to Iraq.
The deployment of the 3,400-member 76th Brigade Combat Team is said to be the largest such Guard movement since World War II.
The outfit was supposed to deploy in 2009 or 2010, but the troop surge in Iraq accelerated the schedule, Col. Keith Sharples, the brigade’s commander said.
Georgia’s own 48th National Guard Brigade has received orders to deploy to Afghanistan next year.
The 76th’s year-long deployment began in December; they’ll continue training at Fort Stewart and will deploy overseas by the end of winter, although the exact date has not been set.
If all stays on schedule, the men and women will be back in the United States by December 2008.
Although most units in the 76th have seen duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, this marks the first time the members of the brigade will serve together overseas.
About 1,000 additional people were already at Fort Stewart, setting up for and preparing for the intense predeployment training.
When final training is completed, the 76th will head to Iraq where their tasks are expected to include defending bases, protecting supply convoys and guarding detainees. They will be parceled out in 21 security companies, backed by several hundred command and support soldiers.
Lt. Col. Deedra Thombleson, an Indiana Guard spokeswoman, said “There’s part of you that knows your friends are going into harm’s way, and it makes you a little nervous,” said Thombleson, who will not be deployed. “But the soldier in you makes you want to concentrate on preparing the other soldiers.”
The troops will be in various Iraqi locations, Thombleson said, to be determined after they arrive overseas, based on the needs there.
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