Utah Unit To Be Kept in Middle East

Utah Unit To Be Kept in Middle East

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Reversing a decision that would have returned troops to Utah in early May, the military is extending the Middle East stay of a 521-member Utah National Guard battalion.

The 1457th Engineer Battalion has been deployed since May. Its mission in Iraq and the length of the extension have not been determined, the Guard said Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, adjutant general to the Utah Guard, was scheduled to meet with family members Friday to discuss the extension.

The 1457th, which was activated in February 2003, had left Baghdad and was in Kuwait, awaiting its return to the United States, when it received word that it might have to stay in the war zone.

Meanwhile, relatives of members of the Army Reserve's 419th Transportation Company have heard that company's service could be extended for a third time.

Claude McKinney, spokesman for the 96th Regional Readiness Command at Fort Douglas, said the command had heard the rumors from family members but had received no official word.

The 419th, based in Salt Lake City, had 170 members called up in March 2003.

Not all of Utah's troops are being asked to stay beyond their scheduled tours. About 120 linguists with the 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion returned to Utah Wednesday after a year in the Persian Gulf region.

Ten Utah Army Reserve soldiers of the 200th Medical Detachment were also scheduled to return to Salt Lake City Wednesday after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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