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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Guam National Guard Prepares For Afghanistan Deployment
600 personnel to join U.S. troops despite announced withdrawal

By Joy White

HAGTA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Feb. 22, 2013) – Amid the Department of Defense’s (DOD) report regarding a decrease in activated Army National Guardsmen and reservists nationwide, Guam is preparing for its largest deployment of Army National Guardsmen to Afghanistan next month.

The island community will officially give its well-wishes to close to 600 Army National Guardsmen of the 1st battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment at a public send-off ceremony at 2 p.m. today at the University of Guam Field House. Those to be deployed are soldiers from Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

The Guardsmen will join the more than 60,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, although during his State of the Union address, President Barrack Obama announced a major reduction in U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, withdrawing 34,000 troops within a year – half the total troops currently deployed there.

The Guam Army National Guard first heard of the deployment plan in April 2011 and received the official mobilization order in August last year.

Nationwide stats

Meanwhile, the Defense Department reported yesterday that the total number currently on active duty from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 38,447.

"The Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve and Coast Guard Reserve announced this week a decrease in activated National Guard members and reservists while the Navy Reserve, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve announced an increase of activated National Guard members and reservists," DOD said in a release.

"The net collective result is 57 fewer National Guard members and reservists activated in comparison to last week. At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease," it added.

Support

Capt. Ken Ola, Guam Army National Guard public affairs officer, said today’s ceremony will recognize the soldiers and airmen leaving for deployment, and will inform the public on who is going and what the soldiers are doing to prepare.

The event will include the "dog tag" ceremony, where the soldiers wear and display their dog tags, signaling they are prepared to be deployed. There will also be the usual yellow ribbon pinning ceremony, in which the soldiers will pin the yellow ribbon, symbolizing support for the military by their loved ones.

Marianas Variety Guam: www.mvguam.com
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