More than 2,000 Hawaii National Guard members have been told they could deploy to Afghanistan in 2013, the guard said Tuesday.
The Guard told most of the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the possible deployment during drills over the weekend and at other points during the past few days, said Lt. Col. Charles Anthony, a spokesman for the Hawaii Guard.
The possible deployment notice covers about 4,000 soldiers, including National Guard units from Arizona and Guam. The 1-158th Infantry Battalion from Arizona and the 1-294th Infantry Battalion from Guam would be attached to the 29th Infantry if they’re mobilized
The notice allows the soldiers to get their families and employers ready for their absence, Anthony said. About 90 percent of the soldiers serve in the military part-time and have jobs in the civilian world or attend school.
“This is a heads up,” said Anthony. “It’s a way of letting soldiers and their families prepare well in advance for deployment.”
Anthony didn’t know when an official mobilization “alert” would likely come. It could be a year or months from now, he said. Soldiers are due to begin receiving additional training in the meantime, he said.
The 29th Infantry returned in mid-2009 from a deployment to Kuwait that lasted about a year, including some six weeks of training at Fort Hood in Texas. The soldiers provided security for U.S. installations in Kuwait and escorted convoys driving into Iraq.
In 2004, the brigade deployed to Iraq and Kuwait for the largest activation of Hawaii’s Guard troops since the Vietnam War. Including training on the mainland, they were away from home for about a year-and-a-half.
The Hawaii Guard suffered its first combat death since Vietnam during that deployment when Sgt. Deyson Ken Cariaga drove his Humvee over a roadside bomb while on patrol in Iraq in July 2005.
Most of the soldiers in the 29th Infantry — more than 1,700 — live on Oahu. About 100 each are from Kauai and the Big Island. Several dozen are from Maui County, which is also home to an engineering battalion that returned from Afghanistan earlier this year.
The soldiers account for about two-thirds of the 3,000 soldiers in the Hawaii Army National Guard.
If the brigade deploys, airmen in the Hawaii Air National Guard will be trained to perform disaster relief and humanitarian assistance missions in the islands in case there is a need while the soldiers are away.