Monday, July 19, 2004

29th Brigade might
ship out early

An Oregon-based unit of the isle
Army Guard gets orders to deploy
for Iraq war training

An Oregon-based unit of Hawaii's 29th Infantry Brigade has been ordered to report to Texas next month for three months of pre-deployment training.

Hawaii Army National Guard officials are not saying whether the brigade's 2,000 soldiers from the islands are included in Oregon's Aug. 19 mobilization date. However, this is the first indication that the 29th Brigade could be mobilized earlier than September as was announced by Maj. Gen. Bob Lee, head of the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard, on July 2.

Several reservists on the mainland have sent e-mails to the Star-Bulletin seeking more information about the 29th Brigade since they have mobilization orders to join the unit on Aug. 15.

The Joint Force Headquarters of the Oregon National Guard received orders Friday to mobilize F Troop, 82nd Cavalry, based in Lebanon, Ore., and send them to Fort Bliss near El Paso to join soldiers from the 29th Brigade for training before they deploy to Iraq.

An Oregon National Guard spokesman told the Albany Herald Democrat on Saturday that to make up for the 100 people required by the orders, the Lebanon troop will be augmented by 90 soldiers from the 218th Field Artillery stationed in Portland.

Brig. Gen. Joseph Chaves, commander of the 29th Brigade, said there also are gaps in the units stationed in Hawaii, and he is determining which soldiers in other Hawaii Army National Guard units will be activated to join the brigade.

He wants to deploy to Iraq with about 3,500 soldiers, with 535 of them coming from an Army Reserve unit: the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry. That unit includes 200 soldiers from American Samoa, 50 from Guam, 70 from Saipan, 200 from Oahu and 15 from the Big Island.

Besides the Army Reserve's 100th Battalion, Chaves commands two other battalions: 2nd Battalion, 299th Infantry in Hilo, and 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry in Modesto, Calif. Under his command is also Delta Battery, 1st Battalion, 216th Air Defense Artillery in northern Minnesota.

Hawaii Army Guard officials said more than 650 soldiers belong to the three units in Oregon, Minnesota and California.

Chaves said he would like to keep the Hawaii and other Pacific island soldiers at Schofield Barracks to work on pre-deployment needs for up to 45 days. Then the brigade will be flown to Fort Bliss to begin three months of infantry and insurgency training that will also include a stint at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.

Chaves' brigade is expected to replace Washington Army National Guard's 81st Brigade, which has been in Iraq since March and has the majority of its soldiers in Balad, north of Baghdad.

When the 29th Brigade was last called up in 1968, only 40 percent of the unit was sent into Vietnam War combat. The last time the multistate Hawaii brigade trained together was in 1999, when it reported to Fort Polk for its 15 days of active-duty annual training.


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