Nevada troops to deploy this week and next to Afghanistan
April 5, 2009
In the largest international deployment by Nevada guardsmen since World War II, about 600 Nevada soldiers ” 20 percent of the state’s total Army National Guard force ” are set to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq within the next two weeks.
Capt. April Conway, public affairs officer for the Nevada National Guard, however, said it is not an indication of an increase in forces.
“It has nothing to do with anything that’s been in the news recently,” she said. “It just happened to be a unit that’s been called up en masse.”
The 1864th Transportation Company, headed for Iraq, will mobilize Thursday, its second major deployment since Sept. 11, 2001. The 1/221st Cavalry Squadron will leave for Afghanistan on April 18.
Conway said that although some companies of the 1/221st Cavalry have deployed, this is the first time the entire squadron will deploy together.
“Keeping that unit’s integrity together is important to the soldiers,” Conway said. “They’ve known each other a long time, some of them 15 years. There’s a lot to be said for going into a potentially dangerous situation and knowing the strengths and weaknesses of their buddies.”
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The 1864th is slated to perform two primary missions ” some of its soldiers will transport heavy equipment while the others will provide convoy security.
Carson City Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Underhill, an Army sergeant, said he’s ready to go to Iraq.
“We’re absolutely ready. We’ve been training for a really long time,” he said. “I’ve got a good crew on my gun truck, so I’m confident.”
Underhill, like many of the soldiers, leaves behind a young family.
“It’s tough to leave obviously, but you have to stay focused and you have to have your head in the game,” he said.
A police officer for 19 years, he has worked nine years for the Carson City Sheriff’s Department. He joined the National Guard 15 years ago, and has deployed twice before, once to Iraq.
The majority of the 1/221st soldiers are set to form security force platoons for reconstruction teams throughout Afghanistan. The remainder of the troops will manage and provide oversight of the Laghman Province from the base at Mehtar Lam. Others will assist at Bagram Air Base.
The soldiers in the security platoons will be responsible for the safety of provincial reconstruction teams in 12 Afghani provinces. These teams usually consist of diplomats and reconstruction officials including agricultural and engineering experts whose primary goal is to stabilize and develop their respective regions.
Both the 1/221st Cavalry and the 1864th Company will head to Camp Atterbury, Ind., for final training, and should arrive in Afghanistan and Iraq sometime in June. They are both expected to serve abroad for about 10 months.