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Idaho National Guard’s 116th headed to Iraq again

More than 2,700 members of the Idaho Army National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, shown here training near Gowen Field, are being mobilized in September for deployment to Iraq, the guard announced today. About 1,500 of the Guard members being deployed are from Idaho; the rest are from Oregon and Montana. The team will have two months of stateside training in Mississippi, then begin replacing other deployed units in Iraq starting in November. The 116th is the same team that was deployed to Iraq in 2004-05, the largest deployment in Idaho history.

“They were commended for their outstanding and professional service to our nation.  I know they will represent our state well again on this deployment,” said Idaho Gov. Butch Otter. “I want to remind Idahoans that this yearlong deployment will impact communities, businesses, families and individuals throughout our state.  I also ask Idahoans to join me in wishing the best to our men and women in uniform, and their family members.   With the help and understanding of friends, employers and other community members, I have no doubt our hometown heroes will succeed again.” Click below to read the full announcement from the Idaho National Guard.


Idaho Army National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team to be mobilized for overseas deployment, Operation New Dawn (Iraq)

For Immediate Release, 26 April 2010

(BOISE) Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter was notified today that the U.S. Department of Defense will mobilize more than 2,700 Citizen Soldiers of the Army National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team in support of ongoing operations in Iraq.  The mobilization is effective on 17 Sep, 2010 and will last approximately one year.  About 1,500 of those Guardsmen are Idahoans; the remainder are from Montana and Oregon.

The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team will be included in the rotation of forces supporting overseas contingency operations in Iraq.  After about 2 months of training in the U.S., these forces will replace deployed units beginning in about November, 2010.  Since being alerted for a possible deployment last September, Citizen Soldiers assigned to the 116th have been putting their personal, financial and family affairs in order in preparation for this one-year mobilization.

“This will be the second deployment of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team to Iraq,”  Governor Otter said. “The war fighters of the 116th first deployed there from late 2004 to late 2005, and they were commended for their outstanding and professional service to our nation.  I know they will represent our state well again on this deployment.  I want to remind Idahoans that this yearlong deployment will impact communities, businesses, families and individuals throughout our state.  I also ask Idahoans to join me in wishing the best to our men and women in uniform, and their family members.   With the help and understanding of friends, employers and other community members, I have no doubt our hometown heroes will succeed again.”

“This mobilization order affects not only our soldiers, but also their families and civilian employers,” said Brig. General Gary Sayler, Idaho adjutant general.  The Idaho National Guard will now focus on ensuring deploying Soldiers are fully prepared to integrate with the U.S. Army beginning on day one of this mobilization.  The 116th will first deploy to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where they will get additional training for this overseas mission.  We then anticipate about 10 months of ‘boots on the ground’ in Iraq.  While the soldiers are deployed, our Family Support Centers around the state will assist family members with coping with a key family member’s absence.”

            Operation Iraqi Freedom will be renamed Operation New Dawn on 1 September, 2010.  The name reflects the change of mission for U.S. Forces in Iraq.  In a 17 Feb. 2010 memo, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “aligning the name change with the change of mission sends a strong signal that Operation Iraqi Freedom has ended and our forces are operating under a new mission.  It also presents opportunities to synchronize strategic communication initiatives, reinforce our commitment to honor the Security Agreement, and recognize our evolving relationship with the Government of Iraq.”

With its headquarters at Gowen Field in Boise, the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team is commanded by Colonel Guy Thomas and is the largest unit of the Idaho National Guard.  Its citizen soldiers are assigned to the 116th’s subordinate units in Idaho, Montana and Oregon; over half this number are Idahoans.

The Idaho National Guard has readiness centers, also known as armories, in 27 communities throughout Idaho.  Those with citizen soldiers assigned to units of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team include Blackfoot, Boise, Bonners Ferry, Burley, Caldwell, Emmett, Gooding, Hailey, Idaho Falls, Jerome, Lewiston, Mountain Home, Nampa, Payette, Pocatello, Post Falls, Preston, Rexburg, Rigby, St. Anthony, Sandpoint, Twin Falls and Wilder.

 The Army National Guard exists in all 50 states, our three territories and the District of Columbia. The governors are the commanders in chief of the National Guard in their respective states and territories.  During national emergencies, however, the President reserves the right to mobilize the National Guard, putting them in federal duty status.  While federalized, the units answer to the Combatant Commander of the theater in which they are operating and, ultimately, to the President.

Adjutants general are answerable to their respective governors for training, readiness and command and control of the units.  At the state level, the governors reserve the ability to call up members of the National Guard for state emergencies.  That mission is perhaps the most visible and well known. Nearly everyone has seen or heard of Guard units responding to battle fires or to help communities deal with floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms or other emergency situations.

In times of disaster emergencies or civil unrest, Idahoans should know that the Guard will always be ready to respond.  Over the last decade, the Idaho National Guard has responded many times to disaster emergencies within and outside our state to include fires, floods and snow emergencies.  A few examples: Our Citizen Soldiers and Citizen Airmen responded to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gus.  They removed record snowfalls from municipal buildings in northern Idaho during the winter emergencies in 2008.  Guardsmen also augmented civilian agencies with support such as airport security in 2001-2002, and provided logistical and security support to the 2009 Winter Special Olympics games held in our state and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah.  Idahoans can be assured that even if the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team is mobilized, about half of Idaho’s nearly 5,000 citizen soldiers and citizen airmen will remain on standby, ready to be called to action by the governor if needed for any State of Idaho emergency.

The Army National Guard is a partner with the Active Army and the Army Reserves in fulfilling the country’s military needs.  In recent years, Army Guard citizen soldiers from around the nation have served in more than 80 countries in a wide variety of operations including combat operations, peacekeeping, stabilization, support, security and nation building.  Since the attacks on our nation on 9/11/2001, more than 390,000 National Guardsmen, Army and Air, have been activated in these capacities around the world and nearly 90,000 Guardsmen are currently serving.

The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team’s primary wartime mission is to provide battlefield commanders with armored reconnaissance, tanks, heavy artillery, logistics support and personnel.  However, since the brigade returned from its 18-month mobilization for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005, our citizen soldiers have also focused on training for stability, support and security missions.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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