Gateway To Afghanistan

Guardsmen from the Heartland

About 120 members of the Iowa National Guard, part of an advance crew for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, waited patiently in lines Sunday outside of a Manas supply tent, where they filed in based on body size to be issued body armor. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
About 120 members of the Iowa National Guard, part of an advance crew for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, waited patiently in lines Sunday outside of a Manas supply tent, where they filed in based on body size to be issued body armor. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

About 120 members of the Iowa National Guard, part of an advance crew for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, waited patiently in lines Sunday outside of a Manas supply tent, where they filed in based on body size to be issued body armor.

The group was expected to board a plane for Afghanistan by Monday, making preparations for when the 3,100-member bridgade joins them at Bagram. On a supply base that moves, on average, 1,200 troops a day, the guardsmen stood out for a couple of reasons. They were noticeably more focused while in line for the supply tent, reorganizing themselves quickly into new lines after being advised of a change in procedure, and appeared to be a bit older, on average, than many of the troop clusters found throughout Manas.

"We figure that about 60 percent (of the brigade) has been deployed before," said Major Mike Wunn. It's believed to be the largest unit call up of the Iowa National Guard since World War II.




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Fairchild Air Force Base supplies 80 percent of the military aircraft and flight crews operating out of Manas Transit Center, a key hub along one of the primary NATO supply routes into Afghanistan. The small base, located outside the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek, is barely 400 miles from the Afghan border.





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