CHEYENNE, Wyo. (KEVN) - About 300 soldiers from six Wyoming Army National Guard
units are set to deploy throughout next year and efforts are already
underway to ensure soldiers, their families and their employers have the
support they need before, during and after mobilization.
It's been almost a decade since Wyoming sent about 700 soldiers overseas. The brigade-sized element was augmented by guardsmen from five other states, most of whom performed non-routine jobs such as convoy support into Iraq, or mayor cell duties on the various military bases in Kuwait.
According to Lt. Col. Charles Thompson, the state's mobilization readiness officer, the plan, so far, is for all the units to deploy to the Central Command area of responsibility.
"That could be Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan or United Arab Emirates," said
Thompson. "The units are set to perform their standard missions."
"Most of our soldiers are dispersed around the state," Breckenridge said. "A lot of the aviators are in the southeast area, but the battalions are all over."
Thompson said the soldiers from the units set to head out the door do cover a lot of Wyoming's open spaces.
"The 2-300 minus, is the largest group. They are primarily out of Casper, Gillette and Lander," Thompson said. "We have volunteers who are reclassifying to fill some vacancies also, so it will be pretty spread out."
As operations have evolved for the WyARNG over the last decade, so have S-FERST services and procedures. According to Breckenridge, the last large scale deployment effort, and several smaller ones since, provided good lessons for him and his staff.
Most important, he said, is getting involved at Soldier Readiness
Processing, or the annual administrative and medical drill all Army
Guardsmen are required to attend, whether deploying or not.
"Being there allows us to update the Family Intake Sheets and to interact with the soldiers a year out," Breckenridge said. "We're mindful that the definition of family has changed over the years and we have more blended families and single parent families. Sometimes it will be the soldier's mom or dad or another service member taking care of a child."
State Family Assistance Coordinator Emily Study said getting the SRP data early in the mobilization process is important for a number of reasons.
"We want to be able to contact the families or the primary caregivers at
least 90 days out and to ensure we have the best way to contact them. Some prefer email or text, and so we can get that information, and start
communicating with them at 90, 60 days out and not be scrambling at the last minute," Study said.
Soldiers need to be focused on the mission while deployed, and having things in order at home is crucial to that end. That includes knowing their job is secure. Employers may have concerns too, and S-FERST and the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve are there to support them as well.
The assistant adjutant general plans to unveil further employer support
strategies next month.