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140 National Guard members from Franklin County to be deployed to Iraq in early 2009

July 02, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- About 140 Pennsylvania National Guard members in Franklin County are among 33,000 military personnel subject to a deployment announced by the Defense Department this week.

The four Army combat brigades and two Marine regimental combat teams have been alerted for deployment to Iraq sometime in the first three months of 2009, the Pentagon stated in a news release.

A spokesman with the Pennsylvania Department of Military & Veterans Affairs confirmed the deployment includes 4,000 troops in the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

Approximately 70 guardsmen with the 56th Stryker Brigade are based in Chambersburg and another 70 in Waynesboro, Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver said.

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"It's the only Stryker Brigade in the entire National Guard," Cleaver said.

The majority of the brigade is in the midst of annual training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, Cleaver said. The guardsmen will return there later this year for mobilization, then head to Kuwait as part of the deployment, he said.

This will be the first deployment for most members of the 56th Stryker Brigade, according to Cleaver.

Cleaver said the announcement "comes as no new news to the Stryker Brigade in the Pennsylvania National Guard." Rather, the deployments had been kept quieter in other included units, he said.

Other units included in the 12-month deployments are the Army's 1st Cavalry Division's 1st and 2nd brigade combat teams, based at Fort Hood, Texas; the Army's 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Drum, N.Y.; and the Marine's Regimental Combat Team 8 and Regimental Combat Team 6, both based in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Associated Press reported that the deployments could change if Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, decides to further reduce troop levels. If that happens, there is the chance the units could be directed to Afghanistan instead, the AP reported.

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

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, a $1.5 billion program, involves 300 Stryker armored combat vehicles. Cleaver described the brigade as a fast-moving operation in which satellites beam down footage to the soldiers.

"It's more important than just the vehicle," he said.

The Stryker



The Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), according to www.army-technology.com, combines the capacity for rapid deployment with survivability and tactical mobility. The Stryker vehicle enables the team to maneuver in close and urban terrain, provide protection in open terrain and transport infantry quickly to critical battlefield positions.

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