Gov. Little announces 4,000 Idaho National Guardsmen being deployed this year
BOISE — Idaho National Guard soldiers are getting ready to be deployed in one of the country’s biggest mobilizations in 25 years.
In his State of the State address Monday, Gov. Brad Little announced that 4,000 Idaho Army National Guard soldiers will be deployed to Germany this year as part of a large-scale exercise. The Idaho Air National Guard will also deploy more than 400 airmen to locations in Southwest Asia to support combat operations.
“We wish them well and pray for their safety,” Little said in his speech.
The 4,000 soldiers are members of the Idaho National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade Team based in Boise. But not all the 4,000 are from Idaho.
“The 116th is comprised of not only units here in Idaho, but Montana, Nevada and Oregon as well,” Idaho National Guard Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Christopher Borders told EastIdahoNews.com.
Around 1,800 soldiers in the 116th are from Idaho. The rest are from surrounding states.
The 4,000 soldiers headed to Germany are part of the 20,000 U.S. service members from around the country that are participating in the Defender Europe 20 exercise to demonstrate the country’s readiness capability.
Borders said the U.S. Department of Defense has been planning the exercise for years.
“This exercise, Defender Europe 20, runs from late April to late May. The exercise is designed to demonstrate the U.S. military’s ability to rapidly deploy a large combat force,” Borders said. “They’re deploying the soldiers and equipment from the U.S. to Europe.”
He explained that the exercise is part of the U.S. national defense strategy and is in support of NATO’s objectives.
“The aim of the exercise is to not only maintain, but increase NATO readiness and to deter potential adversaries,” Borders said. “It will be the largest deployment of U.S. based forces to Europe for an exercise in the last 25 years.”
This spring, the Idaho Air National Guard’ 124th Fighter Wing is also heading out on one of the largest deployments in its history. More than 400 Airmen are being deployed to locations throughout Southwest Asia to support combat operations.
Borders said all 400 Airmen are from Idaho.
Even with so many troops leaving Idaho, Borders said the Idaho National Guard will still be able to respond to emergencies in Idaho.
“We are still responsible for maintaining our ability to respond to statewide emergencies. Whether that’s search and rescue operations, flood response, supporting wildfire fights, things of that nature. We will have a lot of personnel gone at that time, but we will still maintain our state emergency response capability,” Borders said.
He estimated there are currently around 3,000 soldiers from Idaho in the Idaho Army National Guard and 1,300 airmen in the Idaho Air National Guard.