01/28/07 — National Guard units waiting for deployment

View Archive

National Guard units waiting for deployment

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on January 28, 2007 2:02 AM

Three years ago, members of the National Guard's 230th Brigade Support Battalion were in Iraq assisting the 1st Infantry Division, the U.S. Army's oldest continuously serving group.

Since their return, things at the guard's Goldsboro-housed armory have been relatively quiet.

But when President George W. Bush announced his intention to increase troop levels in the country by 20,000, the question surfaced: Will the 230th, again, be called on to deploy?

Maj. William Richards is an administrative officer with the battalion and serves as second-in-command for the group.

Currently, no deployment orders have come down, he said, adding that there is no way to tell if and when the 230th will be called to action.

"We don't have a call right now," Richards said. "Do I think we'll be deployed? I'd be afraid to even speculate."

But one thing is certain, he added. If the battalion gets that call, they will be ready.

"When we got called to Iraq in 2004, it was 'You're going. Get your troops ready,'" he said. "So we did."

Richards, himself, was one of those who went.

In a deployment situation, members of the 230th are assigned to a particular active-duty division and provide support on many different levels -- fuel and ammunition supply, water purification and distribution and medical assistance.

It can be a dangerous proposition for the volunteer force, Richards said.

"It really just depends on the situation," he said. "For example, anytime you're on the roads over there, you're exposed to fire from the enemy, IEDs and those sorts of things."

But bombings and raids aren't all you see from American forces, he added. Often times, the media fail to depict all the good things that have come out of U.S. involvement in Iraq.

"For the media, it's all about the fight, Richards said. "We did some great things while we were over there (in 2004)."

Fixing water pumps and rebuilding schools and places of worship were among the projects members of the 230th undertook while deployed.

Currently, there are only a few members of the battalion involved in anything outside of their commitments to the armory here in Goldsboro.

A few volunteered for the southwest border patrol mission and are set to return sometime next month, Richards said.

But with all eyes on Iraq, North Carolina residents will continue to wait and see if any more of the roughly 12,000 National Guardsmen from the state will be sent to war. Close to 600 are already there.

"We are always planning and preparing for both our missions -- the state and the federal," Richards said. "Right now, it's business as usual."