August 29, 2007 Edition

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Second tour is official for 39th

Amber Adams
Staff Writer

The Arkansas National Guard has now received the official order for the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team to mobilize in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom early in January 2008.

The order is a formal directive for the state to provide 3,200 troops for an anticipated total mobilization time of 400 days. The actual deployment time in the Iraqi theater of operations is anticipated to be approximately 10 months.

The 39th Brigade received its initial alert order on April 6, and has since been formalizing its training plans and conducting a mission analysis in preparation for the units' second rotation to Iraq.

"Now that we have the order we can proceed with our training plans and begin to take care of our soldiers with the additional benefits that come with the shift to `active duty' status," said Maj. Gen. William D. Wofford, adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard.

The order includes the additional elements alerted within the state that were announced by the Guard on August 8, as a result of the Department of Defense calling up the 39th's total authorized strength.

U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln praised Arkansas's National Guard troops and called for the necessary training and resources upon the Guard's official notification that the 39th Infantry Brigade will return to Iraq early next year.

"The men and women of Arkansas's National Guard have responded time and again as our country continues to call upon citizen soldiers like never before," Lincoln said.

"Their service and continuing commitment to our nation deserves our utmost gratitude."

"We also owe these men and women the proper training and equipment to ensure they are prepared for their mission and that they receive the necessary care upon their return," she added. "Moreover, we owe our troops a strategy worthy of their sacrifice, one that better reflects the reality that progress ultimately lies with Iraqis taking responsibility for their own future. All of our men and women in uniform–those who are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and those who have been mobilized to serve next year–will remain in our thoughts and prayers in the months to come."

Last month, Lincoln met with Major General William D. Wofford, Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard, to discuss training preparations and the effect of overseas deployments on troops, their families and their communities.

Eleven other company level units will join the 39th Brigade, including the 87th Troop Command and the 142nd Fires Brigade units. The 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will include Arkansans from 57 communities across the state and will represent approximately one-third of Arkansas's total force.

The 39th will begin its home station pre-mobilization training on Oct. 1, prior to moving forward to its mobilization station in January for more mission and theater specific training in preparation for the deployment.

The Arkansas National Guard currently has approximately 1,200 soldiers and airmen deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Those troops are anticipated to return to the state prior to the 39th's mobilization date.

With the addition of the 39th Brigade's pending deployment, the Arkansas National Guard will have supported the total mobilization of more than 11,500 soldiers and airmen since Sept. 11, 2001.

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