NEARLY half the members of the Guam Army National Guard will be deployed on active duty during the next 12 months.
According to a news release, the Guam Army National Guard received an alert and mobilization order Saturday for a team of soldiers to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. It was the second alert order in a week.
The deployments at their peak will leave a major hole in the civilian work force of the island, as more than 80 percent of those to be deployed are reservists.
The Guam Fire and Police Departments are expected to be especially severely affected, since many of the GUARNG members work in those professions as civilians.
The combined orders for the GUARNG Security Force Advisory Team (SFAT) put it on a more immediate track toward deployment.
The SFAT is a 12-person team, which will be part of a group of 20 teams from the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) of the Hawaii Army National Guard, the news release stated.
“This team of soldiers is expected to deploy within a very short period. I am certain they will be ready and geared up by the time they have to leave. Many of the soldiers in this team, including its leaders, have previously deployed into combat. That gives me the confidence that this team will be prepared for their special mission,” said Maj. Gen. Benny M. Paulino, the Adjutant General for the Guam National Guard.
“This is the second alert order we have received within a week. Now, more than ever, we seek the continued support of our community and our employers. But I also want to thank them for the tremendous support they have already given us over the years,” he added.
Guard officials were not able to give a breakdown of exactly which civilian jobs will become vacant as the soldiers deploy. However, Guam and CNMI employers have traditionally been very supportive of the soldiers' deployment, and in fact, three employers are nominated for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, to be announced next month. They are Home Depot-Guam, M.U. Lujan Elementary School-Guam Department of Education, and ASC Trust Corporation.
Earlier this year, a notice of sourcing was issued for the 29th IBCT to mobilize 20 teams to work as Security Force Advisory Teams, including one from Guam.
The Guam SFAT is expected to work with the Afghan National Civil Order Police. The addition of the SFAT brings the total number of GUARNG soldiers to be mobilized in support of OEF over the next 12 months to more than 600 soldiers from Guam and the CNMI.
Earlier this week, an alert order was issued for the 1-294th Infantry Regiment and the F Company to prepare for mobilization and eventual deployment to Afghanistan. They are expected to depart for their mobilization training sometime early next year.
The anticipated activation of the 1-294th IN RGT can be considered as the largest group of reserve component troops to be mobilized and deployed from Guam.