Vermont Guard brigade put on alert for deployment

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(Host) Fifteen-hundred members of the Vermont Army National Guard have been put on alert that they may be mobilized for active duty. The alert means that the soldiers of the 86th Brigade will prepare for the possibility of deployment. The new mobilization alert is for three separate military operations – ranging from defense of U.S. air space to missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Lieutenant Veronica Saffo, a spokeswoman at the Guard, would not speculate on whether the brigade will be mobilized or how many soldiers might be deployed. She says the Vermont Guard hasn’t had as many deployments as other states:

(Saffo) “It seems like we’ve mobilized a lot of soldiers but really, the percentage is still quite low. So the other states have still been able to still maintain – even with percentages of 75 percent or more – have still been able to maintain their role as homeland defense in their states.”

(Host) Lieutenant Saffo says that of the 2,900 members of the Vermont Army Guard, about 310 are on active duty.

Lieutenant Saffo says if a mobilization order does come in the next 90 days, the Guard will determine who will be deployed based on the skills required for the mission. She says the soldiers are anxious to serve, but the duty also may be mandatory.

(Saffo) “Most of the mobilizations that we’ve received in the last many months have not been on a volunteer basis. They’re Presidential Call-ups, which means that these folks are activated to Title 10, active-duty status and it’s not on a volunteer basis.”

(Host) The soldiers affected by the mobilization alert are now under the Department of Defense’s policy that prohibits them from retiring or separating from their units.

Thursday’s alert is the third of its kind for the brigade in the past three years. The two previous alerts expired without a deployment.

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