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Area Pa. National Guard members ready for deployment to Iraq

Brigade would include troops from Waynesboro and Chambersburg

Brigade would include troops from Waynesboro and Chambersburg

April 18, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania National Guard members in Franklin County have been put on alert that they could be deployed to Iraq, according to a spokesman with the state Department of Military & Veterans Affairs at Fort Indiantown Gap.

The deployment of 4,000 troops in the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team would include about 70 guardsmen based in Chambersburg and 70 in Waynesboro, Pa., Kevin Cramsey said.

"There's nothing definite, but they're at the ready," Cramsey said.

The guardsmen in Waynesboro will be training this weekend and preparing their Stryker armored combat vehicles to be sent to Mississippi, where the troops could use Camp Shelby as a mobilization site.

By considering average time schedules, Cramsey estimated it would be late 2008 or early 2009 before the Stryker Brigade would be deployed, if it is.

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"It is what it is - that you're on alert and to be on the ready," Cramsey said.

The Associated Press recently reported that since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, 17,000 members of the 19,000-member Pennsylvania National Guard have been deployed in support of the war on terror.

The 1st Battalion, 108th Field Artillery has Troop C, 2nd Squadron 104th Calvary in Chambersburg and Battery B at the armory in Waynesboro.

"Even in the Stryker Brigade, that 4,000, they've been doing increased training for some time," Cramsey said.

The guardsmen can expect to add to their schedules, which already include one or two weekends of training a month.

"If they get mobilized, they'll be training much more intensely," Cramsey said.

In 2001, the 56th Brigade was transformed into a Stryker Brigade Combat Team as the only National Guard force chosen to do so. The other six Stryker Brigade Combat Team units are active duty Army, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

The Stryker Brigade is a $1.5 billion program that includes 300 Stryker vehicles.

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