39th Infantry's Deployment to Iraq to be Delayed

February 24, 2004 - Posted at 7:30 a.m. CDT

FORT POLK, LA - The date for the Arkansas National Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade to deploy to Iraq is being delayed.

Military officials say postponing the unit's early March deployment date reflects processing capabilities in Central Command, not the unit's readiness.  No new deployment date has been set.  The brigade is training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and its commander says the unit is prepared for its mission.

Brigadier General Ronald Chastain says he hopes the delay will allow the soldiers more time with their family before they depart.  About 3,000 of the brigade's 4,200 troops are from Arkansas.

Yesterday, five members of Arkansas' congressional delegation visited the unit.  U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and Representatives Marion Berry, Mike Ross and Vic Snyder watched training exercises, attended briefings and had a lunch of field rations with the Arkansas soldiers.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)