875th may redeploy in coming months

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas Army National Guard's 875th Engineer Battalion was notified this weekend that they may be redeployed overseas in the coming months according to Captain Chris Heathscott with the National Guard.

Although an official alert order has not been issued, the group of 700 soldiers was told to be ready when the time comes. 

It's been almost two years since members of the 875th Engineer Battalion returned from Iraq.  Staff Sergeant Chris Durney with the Arkansas National Guard said what this early notification means is preparation.

"We're trying to give them as much time as possible to get all their affairs in order.  To get the families the help that they need, the employers the notification that they need and get these soldiers well trained for whatever may be," said Durney.

Major General William Woffard, the Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard says "We cannot sit down and wait to act when, and if an alert is actually published."  He also said this alert will give troops as much notice as possible to prepare their families and civilian employers.

But it doesn't mean they will be deployed.

"There's a good chance it may not happen.  There's a good chance it will happen.  Until we get the alert order we really don't know," said Durney.

Only a portion of the group would be deployed if they are called up, mostly from Jonesboro and Paragould, but may include members from Harrisburg, Marked Tree, and North Little Rock.

"The National Guard Bureau only identified a small amount.  We don't know what that number is yet.  We don't know how many would be pulled," said Durney.

That's why they're making sure everyone is ready.

"We are going to begin training the entire battalion because it's likely we will need to pull soldiers from all of the units," said Durney.

The timeline, location, and all other specific information is not being released because of security reasons.

The group was told Saturday during the first day of their regularly scheduled training at Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith.

Now they will work to identify soldiers that are eligible for deployment.  Durney said it's no surprise this unit is one included in this order because the 875th Engineer Battalion is one of the best in the country.

"When they were in Iraq they found 1,244 IED's and saved countless lives which is one of the reasons they're getting called on again, because this is an excellent unit," said Durney.

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