OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A second group of Oklahoma National Guard troops learned Friday they will be deploying to Iraq.
The Department of Defense announced that the Enid-based 45th Fires Brigade will begin deploying to Iraq in the summer of 2008. Friday's announcement comes just one day after 2,400 members of Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Brigade deployed to Iraq, the largest deployment of state guard members since the Korean War.
The 45th Fires Brigade, which has subordinate battalion headquarters in Lawton and Altus, has about 950 members, said Lt. Col. John Altebaumer, deputy director of public affairs for the Oklahoma National Guard. Altebaumer said it's not clear how many troops will be deployed.
“There's 950 people who belong to the brigade, but we don't know how many will be called up,”Altebaumer said. “We've been notified, but we haven't received the actual order yet.”
The 45th is one of seven brigades with a total of 18,000 troops that will be sent to Iraq next summer.
The Oklahoma brigade will join brigades from national guards in Texas, Hawaii and Washington providing security operations, including base defense and route security, in Iraq and Kuwait, the defense department said.
“There's a whole lot of things that can be rolled into a security force mission,”Altebaumer said. “You could be guarding a base camp, doing patrols, guarding convoy movements.”
The 45th Fires Brigade, previously known as the 45th Field Artillery Brigade, was renamed as part of the Army's transformation, Altebaumer said. The unit is one of three major commands associated with the old 45th Division.
The troops will begin state-based individual training before next summer, when they will be deployed to a mobilization station for training more specific to their mission, Altebaumer said.
He said the soldiers are being notified this week of their deployment.
“The sooner we can tell soldiers, their families and employers and the community, the better off everyone will be,”Altebaumer said.