Shiraishis set for
Brig. Gen. Joe Chaves, brigade commander who was monitoring the battalion's training, said these sessions are necessary since the unit, led by Lt. Col. Keith Tamashiro, will not be taking their artillery to Iraq. The majority of the unit's tour of duty in Iraq in Balad, north of Baghdad, will be occupied with infantry operations and security and convoy protection.
Chaves, 53, said he realized after talking with leaders of the Washington Army National Guard's 81st Brigade, which his unit will be replacing in February, that some of the deployment training requirements needed to be modified.
Chaves said brigade units from Oregon, Minnesota and California, with nearly 1,000 soldiers, will report to Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 19 while Pacific basin units will report to Fort Shafter. "But the training will be identical," Chaves added. "It will be basic soldier skills -- things like weapons qualification and NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) warfare."
The 2,500 soldiers from Hawaii and other citizen soldiers from Guam, American Samoa, Marianas and Saipan will fly to El Paso and join the mainland units in October. They will train together for the next two months before traveling to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., in January to be certified for combat, Chaves added.
Tamashiro, who in civilian life works for the state Department of Human Services, described the 400 soldiers in his battalion as being "very close."
Second Lt. Wayne Anno, 37, has been a member of the 487th for the past 20 years as an enlisted soldier. Last year, Anno, one of six Honolulu police officers assigned to the 487th, requested to be returned to the unit after he graduated from the Hawaii Army National Guard's Officer Candidate School.
"I thought we might be activated during the first Gulf War because they needed artillery units," Anno said. "We weren't, but I knew it was bound to happen because we are specially trained as an enhanced brigade."
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