Wednesday, June 1, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Mary Fallin flew to Camp Shelby, Miss., today to visit Oklahoma National Guard troops as they prepare to deploy to Afghanistan.
Fallin arrived at the military post this morning with Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, the adjutant general for Oklahoma’s Army and Air National Guard. She planned to meet with some of the more than 3,000 soldiers with the 45th Infantry Brigade as they prepare for the Oklahoma National Guard’s largest deployment since the Korean War.
“I’m extremely humbled by the opportunity to visit our brave military men and women at Camp Shelby before they deploy to Afghanistan,” Fallin said in a statement. “We owe the 45th Infantry and all our military personnel a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.”
The troops have been training for three months at Camp Shelby and at Fort Polk, La. They will deploy this month to northeast Afghanistan, where they will conduct a variety of operations in combination with Afghan security forces. They will be deployed for about nine months.
“We’re looking forward to getting over there and starting our mission,” said Oklahoma National Guard spokeswoman Maj. Lindy White. “With all the training and opportunities we’ve had to expound upon our individual and collective training, I think that everybody is eager to go ahead and get over there.”
The troops have been conducting weapons qualifications, practicing escapes from a vehicle that’s rolled over and conducting “real-world scenarios” where they set up a base and occupy a village, White said.
Fallin is expected to receive a briefing on the soldiers’ mission with military commanders, eat lunch with some of the soldiers, and inspect some of the equipment and uniforms the soldiers have received, including new multi-cam uniforms and improved outer tactical vests, said Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz.
The troops will be deployed to a mix of provinces in northeast Afghanistan, said Col. Joel Ward, who will command the combat team.
The deployment will be the first for a little more than 50 percent of the soldiers. The brigade previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 and to Iraq in 2007.
About 7,000 Oklahoma National Guard troops will remain in Oklahoma, Guard officials have said.
By Sean Murphy, Associated Press