Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

TOP STORY>> Cabot company deploys

By RAY BENTON
Leader managing editor

Cabot’s Army National Guard F. Company, 39th Brigade Support Battalion, left Cabot Sunday evening bound for Camp Shelby, Miss., for two more months of training before reporting for dutyfor Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.

Proud fathers waved with both hands while grandkids sat on their shoulders waving U.S. flags as sons and daughters, dads and moms pulled away from the Cabot armory on three Army buses bound for Camp Shelby.

The Cabot battalion was the largest of three that were deployed on Sunday. Troops lined up in front of the temporary armory in the Cabot industrial park with relatives and friends seeing them off.

Detachment 1, Company F out of Beebe, and Detachment 1 Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry out of Wynne joined Cabot’s F Company as they filled three buses and left from the Cabot National Guard office on the northern tip of town.

The three companies totaled about 130 soldiers of the 3,200 Arkansas Guard members that were federally mobilized at the first of the month. A total of 33 troop departures took place across the state starting Saturday and concluding Monday.
Searcy-based Headquarters, 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team left at 8 a.m. Monday as part of the final departures.

The Cabot troops will complete the final two months of five months of training at Camp Shelby. In March, the group will leave for Iraq, where they will support Operation Iraqi Freedom, primarily on security missions.

Members of the three companies will be spread throughout Iraq helping secure different areas for troops on the ground.
“It is primarily a security mission,” Capt. Craig Heathscott said. “We will be spread all over Iraq doing convoy security, force protection and things like that.”

The federal mobilization orders, which were received last Wednesday, noted a 400-day deployment. The group has been training for the mission since receiving state orders in October, but was allowed to train in Arkansas to limit the soldiers’ time away from their families.

“That last deployment did its entire training at Camp Shelby, all five months,” Heatchscott said. “This allowed them to go home at night and spend more time with wives and kids.”

The combined companies were exceptional in preparing for the mission. Commander Capt. Isaac Shields noted that exceptional preparation during departure ceremonies on Sunday.

He told the soldiers under his command that they were the first to reach 90 percent mission ready, as well as the first to reach 100 percent ready before leaving for Mississippi.

“Order comes down where they want us to be at a certain point by a certain time, and this group was the first to achieve those goals,” Shields said.

The Cabot Guard will get a permanent armory with the recent $8 million funding as part of a $555 billion omnibus spending bill that recently passed through both houses of Congress.