|Published: 5:25 PM, 05/15/2008
||Last updated: 5:06 PM, 05/08/2009
Author: Tommy Millsaps
Source: The Monroe County Advocate
Members of the Tennessee National Guard 278th Armored Calvary Regiment could be on their way back to Iraq or stationed in Afghanistan...but not necessarily.
The roughly 4,000-member 278th, including the I-Troop at the armory in Sweetwater, has been placed on alert for possible deployment.
"The 278th has been alerted for possible mobilization," said Master Sgt. Nate Crawford (Ret.) from the National Guard's press office in Nashville. "They have not received orders to mobilize. They have been identified as having the capability to perform a certain mission that has been identified."
Crawford said the most likely mission for the 278th should mobilization occur would be in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
But he stressed anything and everything is subject to change up until the time of mobilization.
When the 278th was last mobilized in 2004, members first went on alert status in March that year and were sent to Mississippi for training that summer.
The troops wound up in Iraq in the fall of 2004 before coming home a year later.
Local National Guard leaders told The Advocate & Democrat a new readiness and deployment model for the Army means it could be a much longer timeframe before actual deployment this time around should it occur.
SFC Jamie Murphy at the Sweetwater Armory said the Army's new training and deployment cycle known as Army Force Generation Model (ARFORGEN) means reserve troops like National Guard members can expect alert status and deployment every six years regardless of world events.
The new model ensures highly trained troops are always available and gives families and employers more time to prepare should actual mobilization occur.
The Sweetwater Armory is under the leadership of the armory at Kingsport.
Before a restructuring at the end of the troops' tour of duty in 2005, the Sweetwater unit fell under the leadership of the Athens Armory.
The Sweetwater-based troops are scout/reconnaissance soldiers under the leadership of Capt. Mark Ogilvy.
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