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 278th Armored Cav. Regiment Going To Kuwait In November

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278th Armored Cav. Regiment Going To Kuwait In November 15.10.2004
By Steve Blanchett - Newport Plain Talk. - The Greeneville Sun



October 15, 2004


NEWPORT — Tennessee Army National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett said here Wednesday that the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, which includes Greeneville-based Troop G, will begin deployment on Friday, Nov. 12.

Hargett told the crowd of more than 100 people that the troops will begin deployment to Kuwait on Sunday, Nov. 7, when a small forward party of 20 to 30 men will depart, and then the remaining troops will follow on Friday, Nov. 12., depending on space availability on aircraft.

“I wouldn’t plan on seeing the troops depart because the schedule of departure could change by a day or two depending on availability,” said Hargett.

Hargett said the troops will be given a going-away ceremony at Camp Shelby, Miss., on Nov. 10, which will be attended by state and local officials, as well as family and friends. Before the troops are deployed, they will receive a block of leave to come home for seven to 10 days.

“I know that Gov. Bredesen will be attending, and we have invited all the senators and representatives to fly down on two military aircraft,” said Hargett. “We would like to fly friends and family down, but that is against military regulations. We will have one plane depart from Nashville and the other from Knoxville.”

Hargett said the troops are scheduled to be in the Middle East for about one year.

Hargett said of the 278th, “I expect them to return home in mid-January of 2006. I don’t believe they will be on the ground any longer than that. It is possible that the president could declare a national emergency and extend their time, but I don’t think that will happen.”

Going To Kurdish Area

After arriving in Kuwait, the troops will stay there until Jan. 9, when they will move into Iraq and set up operations along about 150 miles of the Iranian border in northeast Iraq, Hargett said.

The area is inhabited mostly by Kurdish people, who are not Arabs and are Iraq’s third-largest ethnic group after the Shiite Arabs and the Sunni Arabs. The Kurds generally have been pro-American.

“You might get blown up with a Kurd, but you will not get blown up by a Kurd,” said Hargett.

Of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the major general said, “They are not going to the Sunni Triangle as per the rumors that have been circulating. They will be guarding the border, and the thing they have to watch out for the most is people travelling across the border.”

To Replace N.C. Brigade

The 278th ACR will be replacing the 30th Brigade out of North Carolina.

“The troops of the 30th Brigade will exchange places with the 278th, but not before they have informed the 278th of all the phases of the mission,” said Hargett.

He said, “They will take our troops around and show them what they need to know to be safe and the people they need to watch out for.”

Hargett said he wanted everyone to appreciate that the spouses, family members, and friends are probably having a lot tougher time with the deployment than the troops are.

“After all, they are doing things that they never thought they would get to do,” said Hargett. “They are shooting .50-caliber machine guns with live ammunition and running around in tanks.”

Hargett said the troops are in good spirits and are they are ready to complete their mission.

‘Should Be Extremely Proud’

“I truly believe that everyone in Tennessee should be extremely proud of the 278th and grateful to these soldiers for what they are doing,” said Hargett.

“They are doing quite well, and our job is to help you with your problems,” added Hargett. “We urge you to contact us with any problems that you may have. We have also found that churches and local government leaders can fix more problems than we ever know about.”

Hargett said if you have a problem, don’t let it fester.

“You can e-mail me, and I will get you an answer within two or three days,” said Hargett.

Yokley Asked For Meeting

“I want you all to know that state Rep. Eddie Yokley asked me to hold one of these meetings in his district because of some issues that I can help you with,” said Hargett. “We’re here to help you to make sure you don’t hear a lot of rumors that are not true.”

Hargett said that Yokley has volunteered to help the families of the troops with any problems that they may have simply by contacting him and discussing the problem with him.

“The guard also has a support system for the families, and we can help you with pay issues and other military matters,” said Hargett.

“I truly appreciate the sacrifices that the spouses and families are making,” the major general said.

“You can feel sorry for the troops for a little bit, but it’s important for you to stay strong at home and take care of the kids and your home while they are away.”

Hargett said that the guard has been through mobilizations before, and since Sept. 11, 2001, the Tennessee National Guard has mobilized more than 9,500 troops.

“It’s not something new to us,” said Hargett. “We have some issues, but they are small. The troops’ morale is good, and I expect great things from them.”

Hargett said he doesn’t have any control over employers, but the guard is here to help spouses with employer problems.

“Yokley can also help with theses types of problems,” said Hargett. “He has been meeting with employers and will continue to do so. All you have to do is contact him.”

“I will personally go to talk with them and try to work things out,” said Yokley. “Most of the families know I will help them, and I have been doing so. I’m a former veteran, and I understand the problems you are facing. We will work for you and try our best to help you.”

The Tennessee National Guard’s Employer Support Representative, retired Col. Bruce Jones, can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (615) 313-0657.

Hargett said the 278th will have an address to mail letters and care packages to by the time it deploys.

He said, “We have only had one fatality in the Guard since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

However, we have had three soldiers get killed in accidents after returning home.”

Hargett also said the Guard is working with local school systems so that when the troops come home on leave, their spouses and children can spend time with them without being penalized.

“If you are having a problem with your school system, contact us, and we will talk to them,” said Hargett. “They have all been willing to work with us.”




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