Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld approved the alerting of approximately 18,000 National Guard soldiers for likely inclusion in the rotation of forces to support operations in Iraq. If needed, these forces would replace deployed units starting in late 2004 and early 2005.
The Central Command commander continually evaluates the need for U.S. and coalition forces and makes recommendations and planning projections as to the appropriate size and composition of the force in Iraq. The National Guard soldiers being alerted now will be mobilized over the next several months to conduct necessary training prior to deployment. Mobilized National Guard forces could be deployed for up to 12 months in theater. The total length of mobilization is dependent on training requirements and the requirements of the Central Command commander.
The major commands being alerted are the 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters from New York, the 256th Separate Infantry Brigade from Louisiana, the 116th Separate Armored Brigade from Idaho and the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment from Tennessee.
This early alert notification provides soldiers time to plan for their deployment, providing as much predictability as possible for service members, their families, communities and employers. As planning continues, it should be expected that additional forces will be identified, alerted, and mobilized.