180 in isle Army Guard to go to Afghanistan


POSTED: Wednesday, December 02, 2009

More than 180 Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers will be mobilized next month and sent to Afghanistan for nearly a year.

Hawaii National Guard officials said the mobilization is not related to the planned buildup of U.S. forces announced last night by President Barack Obama.

The citizen soldiers are assigned to the 230th Engineer Company, led by Capt. Anthony Tolentino, and will spend two months in pre-deployment training beginning Jan. 7 at Schofield Barracks.

Maj. Gen. Bob Lee, state adjutant general, said he believes the unit will leave Hawaii sometime in late February or early March.

Lee said 33 percent of the unit has deployed at least at once. Tolentino was deployed to Afghanistan in 2005.

“;Half of the soldiers are from Maui,”; Lee said. “;The rest are from Oahu and Molokai.”;

The unit will be augmented with 35 reservists from Montana and the Pacific Army Reserve's 411th Engineer Combat Battalion, which was sent to Iraq in 2004. They will be replacing soldiers from Indiana's 1613th Engineer Company and will be stationed at Bagram.

Lee said the soldiers will be involved in construction projects near the Pakistani border.

This is the first wartime deployment for the unit as a whole. However, about one-third of the engineer company was sent to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2005. At that time the unit was designated as the 298th Engineer Company.

“;They helped to construct a 76-mile road from Kandahar to Tarin Kowat in eight months,”; Lee said.