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About 500 Utah Guard Troops Alerted for Possible Activation

About 500 Utah Guard Troops Alerted for Possible Activation

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- About 500 Utah National Guard soldiers in a battalion already deployed once for domestic duties has been put on alert for possible activation to the Persian Gulf in January.

The soldiers in the 222nd Field Artillery Battalion won't necessarily be called to active duty, but every Utah unit except one to be alerted has been mobilized. That unit, the 116th Engineer Group, was mobilized later and deployed to southern Iraq.

Soldiers from armories in Richfield, Beaver, Cedar City and St. George were mobilized in March 2003. They were training at Fort Carson, Colo., for security duties in Iraq when the battalion was diverted to teach Reserve Officer Training Corps students at Fort Lewis, Wash.

A second deployment would entail several months of training and likely a full year of duty in the Persian Gulf, pushing to the limit the two-year activation of citizen soldiers allowable under federal law for each enlistment period.

Of the thousands of Utah National Guard and Army Reservists deployed, only a single unit of combat trainers serving stateside from the 91st Division has served two full years of active duty.

The Triple Deuce is likely to be attached to the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, one of the Brigade Combat Teams unveiled by the Army in October 1999. Five units have been formed from regular Army active-duty troops. The Pennsylvania brigade is the only combat team comprising citizen-soldiers.

The combat teams are intended to serve as a bridge between the tank-heavy Army of the Cold War era and light, mobile fighting forces that lack armored firepower.

They are to be assigned new Interim Armored Vehicles, or Strykers. The system of 10 vehicles includes an infantry carrier, a mobile gun system, an anti-tank guided missile unit, a nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance vehicle, and a remote weapon station with an M2 .50-caliber machine gun or an MK19 40 mm grenade launcher.

The vehicles can sustain speeds of 60 mph, have a commonality of parts, a central tire-inflation system and self-recovery abilities, according to the U.S. Army Public Affairs Office.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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