The Oregon Army National Guard's 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team is scheduled to mobilize three battalions to Afghanistan this summer as part of the regular rotational cycle of forces to provide security missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Maj. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Adjutant General, Oregon, visited with deploying Soldiers, May 27, as they conducted pre-mobilization training at the Orchard Combat Training Center, an Idaho National Guard training facility located south of Boise, Idaho.
Approximately 400 Soldiers will deploy with 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, headquartered in Springfield, with companies also based in Corvallis, Gresham, and Hillsboro. A mobilization ceremony is scheduled for June 7 at the Salem Armory Auditorium, located at 2310 17th Street NE, in Salem, Ore. The ceremony begins at 2:00 p.m.
Approximately 190 Soldiers will deploy with 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry, headquartered in Bend, with companies also in Klamath Falls, Lebanon, and Redmond. A mobilization ceremony is scheduled for June 16 at the Bend Elks Baseball Field, located at 401 SE Roosevelt Street, in Bend, Ore. The ceremony begins at 4:00 p.m.
Approximately 275 Soldiers will deploy with 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry, headquartered in Ashland, with companies also based in Coos Bay, Grants Pass, Medford, Roseburg, and St. Helens. A mobilization ceremony is scheduled for July 18 at the Southern Oregon University McNeal Pavilion, located at 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., in Ashland, Ore. The ceremony begins at 10:00 a.m.
The units will complete deployment processing and training at Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, Texas prior to departure for Afghanistan. The battalions will provide security and support for military facilities in Kabul and southwestern Afghanistan.
"Dollar for dollar, the National Guard is by far the best value for our national security," said Wyden.
The senator held town hall meetings to address Soldiers' questions during his visit. He vowed to be an advocate for the National Guard and all Veterans in Washington D.C.
The history of the 41st Brigade can be traced back to 1917 when the 41st Infantry Division was created for service in World War I primarily from National Guard units from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. The 41st Infantry Division was the longest deployed division during WWII, serving in the Pacific.
Elements of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team have served in Saudia Arabia, The Sinai, Kuwait, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. The brigade deployed a large contingent known as Task Force Phoenix to Afghanistan in 2006 and again deployed the entire brigade to Iraq in 2009.
"The Oregon National Guard today is the best equipped, best trained, best led we've ever been due to experience gained through supporting overseas contingency operations over the last decade," said Maj. Stephen Bomar, director of Public Affairs for the Oregon Military Department. "Mobilizations such as this help the Oregon National Guard maintain a ready and reliable operational force."
Photo: Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry rehearse urban tactics at the Orchard Combat Training Center near Boise, Idaho.