Guard units prepare for deployment - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Guard units prepare for deployment

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November 9, 2004

Valdosta - Members of the Georgia Army National Guard will soon head overseas to help fight the war on terror. More than 1,200 troops with the 48th Brigade will report for duty in December, and about 2,300 more will be called up in January.

They've been waiting for the call since the war on terror started. "All you have to do is look at the media and see what's going on in the world," said Captain Marc Belscamper. "This alert comes as no surprise."

Now members of Valdosta's Army National Guard are ready to report for duty. "If our nation needs us, we're here and ready to go," said Belscamper.

This will be the units first deployment since a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia three years ago. For many, like Specialist Mark Kassum, it will be their first war-time mission. "I'm kind of nervous, but I'm ready to go because that's the reason I signed up," said Kassum.

The soldiers don't yet know exactly what their duties in Iraq will be or when they'll leave, but they could be gone for up to 18 months. "The wives understand that their husbands are in this because they want to do this and support their state and country and we've got a great family support system," said Belscamper.

The unit includes about 100 soldiers and most of those will be deploying. Captain Belscamper says morale is high, and this mission could help recruit new guardsmen. "We've actually had some guys call the unit and want to join because we're deploying and they want to defend their country so it could be a positive instead of a negative," said Belscamper.

So now, they make the final preparations and wait for the orders that will send them out in the fight for freedom.

The troops will most likely report to Fort Stewart in Hinesville and the U.S. Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California before heading to Iraq.

posted at 3:20 P.M. by ashley.harper@walb.com