(Host) There are some new developments concerning the deployment of Vermont’s National Guard to Afghanistan.
General Michael Dubie says it’s likely that the deployment date for 1500 Guard members will be pushed back for several weeks, so that the units can get some additional training that reflects their new combat mission.
Dubie also says it’s likely that other Vermont Guard troops will be sent to Haiti to help with relief efforts in the coming months.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Dubie is traveling to see the 1500 Vermont Guard members on Monday at their current training location at Camp Atterbury in Indiana. The troops are preparing to go to eastern Afghanistan for a year long deployment.
Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Dubie says he’s making the trip to get some first hand knowledge about how the troops are doing:
(Dubie) "I see it more as an opportunity to talk to the common soldiers – not just the leadership – and just see how they’re doing and if there’s anything that we can do right now. Most of them are very focused on their training, so it’s more of a show of support and get some feedback."
(Kinzel) The original mission for many of the Vermont Guard troops was to provide training for Afghan security forces. But Dubie announced several weeks ago that the mission has been changed to more of a combat role.
For this reason, he says the actual deployment date to Afghanistan will be delayed in order to give the troops more time to train for this new mission:
(Dubie) "Most of the group will go for some additional training in Fort Polk, Louisiana. That’s why the dates are moving a little bit to the right on the calendar. And that extra training really is a result of the mission change that we’ve been talking about for several weeks now."
(Kinzel) Dubie also says it’s very likely that some of the remaining 2000 Vermont Guard members will be asked to go Haiti in the coming months:
(Dubie) "We have been notified that probably the National Guard – including Vermont – will have a follow on contribution. That may be to help to run camps, to do more medical support or whatever. So I suspect that Vermont will be going to Haiti in some numbers in the future, but not immediately."
(Kinzel) Despite these two deployments, Dubie says he’s confident that the Vermont National Guard will still have the capability to respond to any emergencies or natural disasters in Vermont.
For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.