Vermont Guard Leader Anticipates Large Deployment in Coming Weeks

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(Host) Vermont National Guard Adjutant General Martha Rainville says it’s likely that an unprecedented number of Vermont Guard members will be called up for active duty as part of the war in Iraq in the near future.

Speaking Thursday night on VPR’s Switchboard, Rainville said it’s too early to know how many of the more than 1,500 Guard members put on alert three weeks ago will actually be deployed.

(Rainville) “We are in contact with forces command that’s developing the mobilization orders. We can’t comment specifically on the particular mission, on particular numbers, although we would expect them to be large numbers it could be anywhere from 600 to 800 to 1,000 to 1,200, which is why I can’t speculate, it’s all over the place. Certainly, if this deployment develops the way that’s been indicated that it will, it would be the largest deployment ever.”

(Host) Currently there are about 600 Vermont Army and Air National Guard members are on active duty overseas, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rainville says it the decision on the next deployment could be announced in the next several weeks.

Three Vermont guardsmen died in fighting in Iraq this spring. Responding to questions about whether Vermont’s citizen-soldiers are adequately trained to serve in combat areas, Rainville said she’s convinced they are.

(Rainville) “It is I would guess probably impossible to actually prepare any individual for the experience of being shot at until you’re shot at. The three who were killed were not killed because they were not trained properly. There is nothing they could have done that would have prevented those deaths.”

(Host) Rainville says a higher than average number of Vermont guard members chose to retire this spring because of uncertainty about future deployments. Despite that, she says the Vermont Guard expects to meet its overall recruiting target. Nationally, the guard has been falling short of recruitment goals.

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