Albany Guard returns from training mission -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany Guard returns from training mission

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

August 1, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany National Guard troops were back home Friday after a training mission to prepare them for a dangerous deployment.

Thousands of Georgia National Guard troops will deploy to Afghanistan next year, and they're getting ready now. Members of Albany's 148th Forward Support Command just spent three weeks training in Minnesota and Wisconsin with other National Guard units and soldiers from Great Britain.

Members of the 148th Forward Support Command unpacked their gear and cleaned their weapons Friday morning after getting back to Albany at nine Thursday night from a three week training mission to the Midwest. It's their first step towards a mission in Afghanistan in 2009.

"It was good training, a lot of things I hadn't been through before coming from aviation support to light infantry support," said Sgt. Clarence Rivers, 2/121 Infantry Brigade.

When these troops go to Afghanistan they'll be up against a very experienced mountain force, that's well funded and doesn't run from a fight, that's why training is focused on weapon marksmanship and hand to hand combat.

"When they go beyond the wire outside of the fence then they're out among the people and they have to be able to handle themselves," said Rivers.

The Albany group convoyed from Minnesota to Wisconsin in a live exercise that will simulate what they'll experience as they supply infantry groups in Afghanistan.

"They had a chance to fire off platforms with the weapons systems, being up on armored Humvees and engaged silhouetted targets that popped up that were engaging them," said SFC Don Whitmire, 2/121 Infantry Brigade.

It's the first time 100 percent of the group is required to have medical training. Afghanistan's terrain limits medical flights out if a soldier is wounded.

"In Afghanistan, everybody need to be a medic, everybody need to be a first responder," said Whitmire.

Soldiers will continue their training here in Albany, and with the Mayor's help hope to plan some practice details and patrols in downtown Albany.

They'll also run some convoys between Albany and Ft. Benning and Ft. Stewart to keep their skills sharp.

In February, the 148th Forward Support Command will travel to Ft. Polk, Louisiana for final training before their deployment. Their exact deployment date hasn't been released.