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Guardsmen in South Mountain, Pa., train for possible deployment

December 12, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Eighty guardsmen based in nearby South Mountain, Pa., are among 3,500 to 4,000 people training for the possibility of being deployed to Afghanistan in 2014, according to a Pennsylvania National Guard spokesman.

Battery B, 1-108th Field Artillery is part of Pennsylvania’s 56th Stryker Brigade, a unit that works with a specialized armored vehicle. Pennsylvania has the country’s only Stryker brigade associated with a reserve unit, as the others are active Army units.

While no official announcement has been made about the next deployment, most units are on a five-year schedule, according to Sgt. Matt Jones, a spokesman from Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.

The brigade was in Iraq from January to September in 2009.

Units receive their alert orders a year before deployment, so official word could be coming next month, Jones said.

“This is something they’ve been preparing for in the past year,” he said, saying guardsmen do many of their drills on weekends.

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If the 56th Stryker Brigade is sent to Afghanistan, its members could become some of the last U.S. troops in that country. President Obama has said troops will be leaving Afghanistan in 2014.

Pennsylvania’s 56th Stryker Brigade members started working with an M777 Howitzer model of the vehicle before their last deployment.

The South Mountain readiness center opened in 2010, combining the armories in Gettysburg, Pa., and Waynesboro, Pa. The Waynesboro armory, built in 1936, remains vacant.

Jones said the Waynesboro armory on North Grant Street is one of several facilities awaiting legislation that will allow the properties to be sold.

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