Arkansas National Guard to deploy 450 soldiers for 1-year mission

Cars wait to enter Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, in this Sept. 9, 2014 file photo. (AP/Juan Carlos Llorca)
Cars wait to enter Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, in this Sept. 9, 2014 file photo. (AP/Juan Carlos Llorca)

The Arkansas National Guard will deploy 450 guardsmen this weekend to begin a one-year mission that will eventually take them to Southwest Asia.

The Guard announced Friday that the Arkansans will leave their respective armories on Sunday for Fort Bliss in Texas.

After completing mobilization training, the units will be stationed in Southwest Asia for roughly nine months as part of Operation Spartan Shield, a joint mission under the U.S. Central Command.

The deploying soldiers are from A Company in Walnut Ridge and Harrison, B Company from Batesville and Augusta, C Company from West Memphis, Headquarters and Headquarters Co. from Searcy, in addition to a platoon from the Missouri National Guard.

The affected companies are part of supporting units of the 2-153 Infantry Battalion, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

According to a news release, Operation Spartan Shield's mission is to build "partner capacity in the Middle East to promote regional self-reliance and increase security among partner nations."

During their nine months in Southwest Asia, the guardsmen will serve as a security force, providing convoy and base security for U.S. military units and allies.

Recent social media posts by Task Force Spartan have depicted its units working with forces from Israel and Kuwait.

"These Guardsmen are well-trained and prepared for this mission," said Maj. Gen. Jon Stubbs, Arkansas' adjutant general, in the release. "While their mission is very important, it's the easy part. Leaving behind your loved ones and your employer is always the most challenging part. We've got patriotic employers in Arkansas, and we recognize their sacrifices in supporting this deployment.

"For families, we've got an excellent support system in place. I encourage the family members of those deploying to reach out if something comes up. The Guard is family, and we're going to provide support and guidance to ensure families are taken care of so that's one less thing for our deploying Soldiers to worry about."

Sunday's departure ceremonies for the deploying companies are scheduled as follows:

Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 9:30 a.m., Searcy Armory, 3105 S. Main St., Searcy.

A Company, 7:30 a.m., Harrison Armory, 2810 Airport Road, Harrison.

B Company, 8:30 a.m., Batesville Armory, 1690 White Drive, Batesville.

C Company, 8:30 a.m., West Memphis Armory, 1700 N. Avalon St., West Memphis.

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