Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the Montana National Guard 639th Quartermaster Company, headquartered in Havre, are in the final stages of preparing for deployment to Iraq, with a shorter stay planned out of state and a shorter deployment in general, three months shorter than the last time the company was deployed. The supply company will leave Sunday for Fort Harrison near Helena for the start of a 12-month tour of duty. Sgt. 1st Class Ron Fanning said more intensive preparation in state has reduced the amount of time needed at a mobilization station, including an intense annual training session at Fort Harrison over the summer. “We started in March and we finished in December,” he said this morning. The company is departing Havre to Fort Harrison near Helena en route to Fort Lewis, Wash, its mobilization station, before departing for Iraq in late January or early February. This is the second deployment of the 639th to Iraq, with some members actually returning to the country in support of the effort there for the third time. Some 120 troops of the 150-member company, with units located in Havre, Libby and Kalispell, will be deployed for about 12 months. The 639th, a unit of the 495th Combined Sustainment and Support Battalion headquartered in Kalispell, Was deployed as a supply company in Iraq for 15 months, from January 2004 through March 2005. The company was originally deployed to Fort Harrison in November 2003 before being sent to its mobilization station in Fort Carson, Colo., for a two-month training period, according to a release from the Nationa Guard. This year, things changed and the time spent in out-ofstate mobilization was reduced. A Department of the Army program known as the Premobilization Training Assistance Element helps units in prepare for their deployments, assisting in training and certification of that training. The training is conducted through weekend drills and annual training, maximizing efficiency to allow for shorter deployments. The 639th spent five weeks in Fort Harrison over the summer, in preparation for its possible deployment. That time was part of the training by the pre-mobilization element, consisting of a command staff of three soldiers and four training assistors, assigned to mobilizing units to prepare them for deployment. The intent of the more intensive training is to reduce the time spent out of state and away from home, a National Guard press release said. “The PTAE assistance in training these units will help eliminate Montana unit deployments longer than 12 months, allowing for more time with families and their civilian employment and provides strong in-state training,” said Lt. Col. Guy Rainville, PTAE program manager. The program was started after Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made a decision in 2007 that all reserve forces would be mobilized for no more than 12 months at a time. Since the start of the U.S. Global War on Terror following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on U.S. targets. Some units of the Montana National Guard spent as much as 18 months mobilized, including up to three months in training at mobilization stations out of Montana. Fanning said the unit will depart for Fort Harrison at 11 a. m Sunday, with a ceremony including for family and friends of the soldiers planned at the armory at 10 a.m.