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Jed Boal ReportingThe Pentagon today alerted 85-thousand US troops to prepare to relieve forces in Iraq. 43-thousand US Reserve and National Guard Troops are part of that rotation; more than 700 of them are from Utah.
About a year ago several thousand Utah citizen soldiers geared up for battle. In the months ahead many will come home, but others will head off to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Last winter a rapid succession of tearful sendoffs separated soldiers from their families as more than 5000 Utah troops fine-tuned their training and deployed for battle. More Utah families tonight are bracing themselves for the inevitable goodbyes. National Guard and Reserve units knew this day was coming.
Col. Bruce Frandsen, Utah National Guard Chief of Staff: “This is what the military plans for. This is what we train for, and our soldiers are ready to perform their duty."
650 soldiers from the Utah Army National Guard and 60 US Army Reservists will find out in a month or so if or when they'll be mobilized for operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Master Sergeant Anthony Martinez, 96th Regional Readiness Command: “An exact time, it's hard to say, but they'll have time. That's why we call it alert, they'll have time to prepare."
Cpt. Andy Adamson, 489th Engineer Team: “I'm hoping we'll be back sometime in the beginning of next year."
Captain Andy Adamson deployed with his 489th Engineer team in January. He's on a two-week leave and among more than 2600 Utahns currently deployed waiting to find out when they'll come home for good.
Cpt. Andy Adamson, 489th Engineer Team: “We've been there a long time and people are starting to want to go home. It has its ups and downs."
Adamson feels good about assistance they've given Iraqis on power projects and the support they've provided combat units. He says he appreciates life in the US more than ever.
Cpt. Andy Adamson, 489th Engineer Team: “It's been very difficult to be away from your family. I had a two-year old daughter and a five-year old daughter. They've changed a lot since I've been gone."
Overall, the number of U-S forces will decrease in Iraq next year and trained Iraqi forces will increase. Most of this will happen from January through April.