Hawaii Army National Guard to Deploy to Kuwait

Major General Robert G. Lee
Major General Robert G. Lee
Staff Sergeant Daniel Carreiro
Staff Sergeant Daniel Carreiro

KALAELOA (KHNL) -- Hawaii soldiers are headed back to the Middle East very soon.

"Our nation will be calling them back to duty in the Middle East, so an alert notice was sent out to all of the units in the 29th Brigade," said Major General Robert G.F. Lee, State of Hawaii Adjutant General.

This affects the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 29th Brigade Support Batallion, the 29th Brigade Special Troops Batallion, the First Squadron 299th Calvary, and the First Batallion 487th Field Artillery.

Their mission is "to provide for the security of American support efforts in Kuwait, " said Lee.

Training will begin soon. General Lee hopes to train in Hawaii.

"We're giving our soldiers the maximum training because insurgents do not recognize international boundaries," he said.

Staff Sargeant Daniel Carreiro of the 29th Brigade Headquarters appreciates the training. Kuwait is less risky, but still, he says, "It is a different place but it's within the same region. Same dangers there."

The soldiers will be gone for a year.

"You can expect a 25 percent training increase in weekend assemblies, so there's going to be more than one weekend a month and an additional two to three weeks of annual training," said General Lee.

Several other Hawaii units are in the Middle East as well. Despite the deployment, General Lee said Hawaii will still be well protected.

"The entire Air National Guard in the state of Hawaii and many units in Hawaii Army National Guard not affect by this call out," he said.

General Lee said 62 percent of the reserve force will remain in the state.

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) released the following statement Friday in reaction to reports of a possible earlier-than-expected deployment of the 29th Brigade Combat Team:

"It is my understanding that the Pentagon is considering a possible deployment for members of Hawaii's 29th Brigade Combat Team for fall 2008 but has yet to make an official notification to either Major General Robert G.F. Lee or the Hawaii Congressional delegation.

"I am concerned about the affect this quick redeployment will have on our soldiers and their families. It falls well short of the National Guard Bureau's goal of five years between combat deployments.

"We have asked the brave men and women in our National Guard to make great sacrifices in the service of this nation; in return, we need to make sure they receive sufficient periods of time to reconnect with their family and life between deployments.

"As Chair of the Senate Armed Service's Subcommittee on Readiness and Management, I am particularly concerned about the consequences of calling troops back to the war zone before they have adequate time to rest and train.

"As the reports have yet to be confirmed, it is my hope that the Department of Defense will further discuss the potential impact of early redeployment on military members and their families with General Lee and the other State Adjutant Generals," Akaka said.

"Congresswoman Mazie Hirono and I have already asked Secretary of the Army Pete Geren for more information about the redeployment of the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team to Iraq," said Rep. Neil Abercrombie, Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces. "We want to know how the Army plans to deal with the fact that the unit has never been fully re-equipped after their last Iraq deployment. Best estimates are that the BCT has about 65% of its allotted vehicles and rolling stock, and is short on weapons, night vision goggles and other equipment. Additionally, the unit is as much as 500 people below authorized strength."

"Last October, Rep. John Murtha and I warned that National Guard units faced additional deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan because the active duty Army is too small to sustain President Bush's endless war," said Rep. Abercrombie. "Despite our state adjutant general's protests that it could never happen, it is. Our warning wasn't based on inside knowledge or mysticism, just arithmetic."