The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

April 24, 2007

State National Guard busy at home

Not expecting to deploy overseas

The West Virginia National Guard isn’t being stretched too thin these days, with about 300 soldiers deployed throughout the world.

That’s a rather modest number compared to when the state had 1,800 soldiers mobilized at one point a few years ago.

And it doesn’t appear that West Virginia units will see major deployments anytime soon.

Most units already have exhausted their reserve mobilization time, said Lt. Col. Mike Cadle, public affairs officer for the Guard.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, all but one unit in the West Virginia National Guard — Army and Air combined — have been deployed, Cadle said. Only the Army band has not seen action abroad.

“Generally speaking, the president can call up reservists for about two years at a time,” Cadle said. “Many of our troops reached that. That’s why they’re not available for deployment right now.”

More than 13,000 National Guardsmen across the country are expected to be deployed later this year. At least four National Guard brigade combat teams will likely be alerted for possible deployment in Iraq, according to the Defense Department.

Cadle said no West Virginia units have been informed of any potential mobilization.

The Guard has about 6,300 members in West Virginia. Many have spent time constructing roads and military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Others have worked at detention centers and provided security for convoys operating in Iraq.

Air Guardsmen have flown through Middle East countries transporting troops and supplies.

“What it boils down to, is that we’ve been an active participant since 9/11, not just in Iraq or Afghanistan,” Cadle said. “About every unit in the state has been deployed, some of them more than once.”

There are now about 70 soldiers in Iraq representing the Wheeling-based Company C/150th Aviation Battalion. Those soldiers are responsible for flying Blackhawk helicopters and transporting fellow comrades, Cadle said.

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