RICHMOND, Va. - Maj Gen Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, responded to President Bush’s call for an increase in the number of troops deployed to support “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and the Pentagon’s change in the amount of time citizen-soldiers can be ordered to active federal service.
Maj. Gen. Newman said that all indications are that the surge will not require more Virginia National Guard units than have already been programmed to deploy. The increase in Army troop strength is being achieved by changes in deployment and re-deployment dates for brigades already serving or previously scheduled to serve in Iraq as well as a change to the deployment of a brigade from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.
Alpha Company of the 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Virginia Army National Guard, from Fredericksburg, Va., left for Fort Dix, N.J., on Jan 7, 2007 for 18 months of active federal service but this mobilization was previously scheduled and is not a part of the increase in troop strength called for by the President.
Maj. Gen. Newman said that the implications of the reserve component mobilization policy changes announced yesterday are not yet clear. He said, “The good news is that from this point forward, our mobilizing units will be away from their homes and families for 12 months rather than 16-18 months as has been the case previously. On the other hand, we have not yet received instructions on what impact these policies will have on Guardsmen eligibility for mobilization based on the 24 month rule.“
Maj. Gen. Newman closed by saying that “in the long term, these changes are good for the Virginia National Guard and good for our Guardsmen. We look forward to working with the National Guard Bureau to develop fair and reasonable implementation policies and procedures.”