By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
DANVILLE - The Pennsylvania National Guard’s 56th Stryker Brigade is awaiting orders to deploy to Afghanistan sometime in 2014 and could be among the last American soldiers serving in that country before the U.S. withdrawal.
National Guard spokesman Sgt. Matt Jones said alert orders authorizing the 4,000-member unit to spend more money preparing for a deployment are expected to be issued early next year and would give the service members up to about one year of notice.
“If the unit gets the alert order in January for a yearlong deployment, it would absolutely mean they would be among the last troops in Afghanistan,” Jones said, referring to the U.S. plan to withdraw from the country by the end of 2014.
A “significant” number of National Guard members from the Valley would likely be deployed along with the Stryker Brigade if the order is given, he said.
“There are always jobs that need to be filled,” Jones said. “We reach all around the state, and there’s a safe bet there would be a significant amount from Lewisburg, Sunbury and Williamsport.”
Maj. Clyde Brown, of the 3rd Battalion, 103rd Armor Regiment in Danville, hasn’t received word about a possible deployment affecting local members of the National Guard.
“Right now, no soldiers within our organization are scheduled to deploy with Stryker Brigade. But that could change in five minutes,” Brown said, adding that all are prepared to be called up at a moment’s notice. “That’s an element of what we do, to be ready.”
It would be at least the second deployment for the Stryker Brigade, which most recently was deployed to Iraq in 2009.