600 Vermont National Guard members called up

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(Host) Six hundred members of the Vermont Army National Guard have been notified they’ll be deployed to the Persian Gulf. The call-up is the largest in the Vermont Guard since World War II.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Fifteen-hundred members of the Army Guard were placed on alert in June. Since then, they have been waiting to find out if and when they will be mobilized.

On Friday, 600 members of the Second Batallion of the 172nd Armor Division received word that they’ll be shipping out to the Middle East. Lieutenant Veronica Saffo is with the Vermont National Guard.

(Saffo) “We can’t specify the nations that have been identified that they’re going to be serving in but what we can tell you is that Iraq is not one of the nations that has been identified for this mission.”

(Zind) Saffo says the Guard members will leave Vermont on about November 18. They’ll spend an unspecified amount of time training at Fort Dix, New Jersey before being deployed overseas. Saffo says they’ll be trained as a security force to guard infrastructure. Meanwhile, the rest of the 86th Brigade remains on alert.

(Saffo) “That alert does not run out until about December 9. So they’re still on alert. There’s the potential that there may be another mission identified for the remaining soldiers in the unit.”

(Zind) The deployment will bring to roughly 850 the number of Vermont Guard members serving overseas – primarily in Iraq and the Persian Gulf region.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Colchester.

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