- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2003

Scores of soldiers from a special company of the Maryland Army National Guard in Baltimore County are being mobilized to active duty in support of the U.S. war on terrorism, Operation Enduring Freedom.
It is the first time since Operation Desert Storm in 1991 that Company B of the 2nd Battalion of the 20th Special Forces Group, based in Glen Arm, Md., has received orders from the Pentagon to mobilize.
Maryland National Guard spokesman Maj. Charles S. Kohler said the orders call for six A Team Detachments, each consisting of 12 soldiers, to mobilize for Operation Enduring Freedom on a full-time basis for at least one year and perhaps longer.
"We're extremely proud of these citizen-soldiers that are able to put their careers on hold and take time apart from their families to serve their country and their communities," Maj. Kohler said. "We know that they'll be successful in any mission they may be called upon to perform."
After mobilizing on Jan. 27, the Special Forces unit will travel to Fort Dix, N.J., for further preparations. Maj. Kohler described the unit as "a typical Special Forces unit, trained to the same standards as their active-duty counterparts."
"They're capable of stepping in alongside active-duty Army Special Forces and performing the same missions, from conventional warfare and unconventional warfare," he said.
While soldiers from the 20th Special Forces Group were not sent outside the United States during their mobilization for the Gulf war, Maj. Kohler said, they are trained for such missions as counternarcotics operations and "training foreign nationals to be able to sustain their own government and military operations."
He would not speculate on whether the troops could be used in the Persian Gulf if the intensifying standoff between the United States and Iraq would lead to a war there.
The Pentagon last week ordered thousands of active-duty military personnel, two aircraft carrier battle groups and scores of combat aircraft to begin preparations for deployment to the Persian Gulf region.
It was reported Tuesday that several Virginia Army National Guard units, consisting of about 800 soldiers, were being called up for active duty in a mobilization to support Operation Noble Eagle, the domestic response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Their mission will include provide force protection for Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Belvoir and its Davison Army Airfield, Langley Air Force Base and the Virginia Air National Guard Base at Sandston. They also will serve at Fort McNair in Washington and Fort Meade in Maryland.
Virginia Guard being mobilized include:
Headquarters and Headquarters Battery of the 29th Infantry Division's Division Artillery in Sandston.
The 429th Forward Support Battalion's Headquarters and Support Company in Staunton, and Company A in Richmond.
The 229th Engineer Battalion in Fredericksburg and Warrenton.
The 3rd Battalion of the 111th Air Defense Artillery from Portsmouth, Emporia, Franklin and Onancock.
Headquarters Battery and Batteries A, B and C of the 111th Field Artillery's 1st Battalion from Norfolk and Hampton.
More than 800 Virginia Army and Air National Guard members are already on federal active duty. Most are assigned to supporting the war on terrorism, but others are serving in Bosnia, where 99 percent of the U.S. component of NATO's mission in Bosnia about 1,600 troops is made up of National Guardsmen and Army Reserves.
National Guardsmen are considered civilian soldiers because, unless they are called up for active duty, their commitment to the military consists only of one weekend per month with two weekends per month required during the summer.
Nearly all guardsmen have full-time jobs outside their commitments to the military, although Maj. Kohler said they typically do not stray from jobs in either the law enforcement or intelligence fields. "Their civilian jobs are often very similar to what they are trained to do in the Guard," he said.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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