The 39th Trains for War

CAMP SHELBY, MISSISSIPPI (KAIT) - Over three thousand members of the Arkansas National Guard are being deployed to Iraq.  The 39th infantry brigade is currently at Camp Shelby, Mississippi polishing their combat skills.

Camp Shelby Mississippi is located south of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It is one of the largest state-owned and operated field training sites in the United States being able to handle over Twelve Thousand troops at a time.

Right now there are nearly Three Thousand Arkansas National Guard troops training there.

One of the important things you have to know about this deployment is that it not only affects Northeast Arkansas. This is a statewide deployment for the 39th. This deployment involves every major city in Arkansas. So when these troops deploy over to Iraq it will truly be the state of Arkansas that will be shining.

The training runs seven days a week, often 24 hours a day. Weapons, operations, language, the skills they will need in theater.

Sgt. Mickey Miller, "I don't think you can actually get that real feeling until you are there. There has to be a difference between an actual IED going off and what you see out here in training. But that's why we train the way we do."

With such a large statewide gathering of troops. Many of these soldiers are working with people that may have not met before.

So how do you take the people from other units that have been mixed in and form into one cohesive unit?

Capt. B.J. Vincent, "What we do is everyone is integrated throughout the entire company. It's not all the new people in one vehicle. It's not all the experienced people in one vehicle. "

The crackle of gunfire and the sound of explosions carries on around the clock as the 39th prepares for it's two primary missions convoy security, and base camp security, both hazardous duties.

Fortunately due to previous deployments the 39th is blessed with a core or seasoned veterans like Jonesboro resident SFC. Lance Holcomb.

Holcomb, "I know what to expect. I know what's going on over there and I just try to relay that down to some of these younger soldiers who've not been there yet. I don't sugar coat it for them. I want them to know what to expect. "

The troops have only been in Mississippi for three weeks but the mind set for the mission and the need for this training is setting in hard.

Spc. Kristina Bowie, "We've been learning a lot about IED's all of our weapons training and a little bit of everything, some urban ops in case anything else happens were just trying to qualify and get all the training we possibly can before we get in county."

It's hard to describe how the soldiers feel, but they know that they are going over there doing something important. And you should be proud of them.