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National Guard call-up to Kosovo to include troops from local units

Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers from 19 units, including posts in Huntingdon and Lewistown, have been alerted for a deployment to Kosovo later this year to perform a peacekeeping mission. Approximately 1,150 soldiers from Pennsylvania’s 28th Infantry Division are slated to replace active duty Army personnel with the 1st Infantry Divison, Germany, currently at work in Kosovo.
Though they have been alerted, Guard personnel have not yet received a mobilization order. The troops are scheduled to begin three months of training at an active Army base sometime around March 3 then depart for Kosovo in late spring. The soldiers will serve in Kosovo for six months and return in early 2004.
The deployment to Kosovo was preplanned and is “not related to other global issues” according to information the Guard’s public affairs officer at Ft. Indiantown Gap. On the list of the units or portions of units alerted for active duty is Headquarters Company 2/112th Infantry, Lewistown.
“We do have an alert order and it looks like we will possibly be participating in the K-4 rotation,” said Maj. Sam Hayes, operations officer of Pennsylvania Army National Guard, 2nd Battalion 112th Infantry headquartered in Lewistown. “At this point in time the alert order is very generic.”
Hayes is a 1985 graduate of Tyrone Area High School.
“We don’t have specific numbers,” added Hayes. “It’s potentially up to several hundred.”
Hayes stressed that the “several hundred” soldiers would come from units throughout the entire battallion, from posts including those in Altoona, Everett, Huntingdon, Lewistown, Bellefonte and Tyrone.
The Pennsylvania soldiers deploying to Kosovo will be the command element of the mission there. Their deployment will be complemented by a call-up of roughly 1,000 more National Guard soldiers from 20 other states.
As part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the 28th Infantry Division will command peacekeeping operations in the U.S. sector of eastern Kosovo known as Multinational Brigade East. The deployment will mark the first rotation of Guard soldiers into the war-torn area.
An undisclosed number of 28th Inf. Div. soldiers have also been alerted for a mission in which they will assist U.S. Air Force and Air Force reservists in performing institutional security at two bases near Pittsburgh, in Harrisburg and at Willow Grove Naval Air Base.
Effective Jan. 2, the Guard issued a unit specific stop-loss order. In those units, soldiers who have reached the end of their terms of service will not be permitted to immediately leave the Guard.
Pennsylvania’s National Guard is the largest in the country and currently is the most deployed with approximately 3,800 members supporting European peacekeeping and security missions and the war against terrorism.