September 19, 2003

Additional National Guard mobilizations for Iraq likely

By Katherine McIntire Peters

A senior military official at U.S. Central Command says at least two more of the Army National Guard's 15 enhanced combat brigades, which have about 5,000 troops each, are likely to be activated this fall for service in Iraq next year. In July, the Pentagon notified members of two enhanced brigades that they would begin training this winter for an Iraq deployment next spring.

About 180,000 members of the National Guard and military reserve forces already are serving on active duty, many of them deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 300,000 Guard members and reservists have been called to active duty.

Civilian Defense officials have been resisting additional reserve mobilizations. According to the Central Command official, Bush administration officials "don't want to call up more troops going into an election year, but the fact is they won't have any other choice unless our allies surprise us and agree to commit more troops to Iraq, and I don't think anybody thinks that is going to happen."

The Bush administration's recent request for $87 billion in supplemental spending for operations in Iraq includes $2.2 billion for reserve mobilizations. A senior administration official at a White House background briefing Wednesday said the money "would be for calling up the National Guard and Reserves and some separate enhanced brigades."

The Army National Guard's 15 enhanced brigades receive more training and better equipment than most Guard units and are maintained in a higher state of readiness. The brigades are intended as a strategic military reserve to support the active force. However, elements of some of the brigades have already been deployed to Iraq to support regular Army units, a situation that may render some of the brigades unsuitable for deployment as they are designed.

The two brigades alerted in July that they will train for deployment next year are the Arkansas National Guard's 39th Enhanced Separate Infantry Brigade and the North Carolina National Guard's 30th Infantry Brigade. Both brigades will be supplemented with troops from other states' Guard forces.

Other enhanced brigades are located in Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.