With four Utah National Guard units already activated for service in the Persian Gulf - one of them from Utah County - members of the county's seven other National Guard units are making sure they are prepared in case they are activated.
A few months ago, American Fork's 120th Quartermaster Detachment was activated and is now in the Persian Gulf. But other than Pentagon officials, nobody knows if any of Utah County's other Guard units will follow. In all, more than 1,100 Utah County residents are members of the Utah National Guard."I can't say that there is a likelihood and I can't say that there is not a likelihood of other units being activated. Nobody knows for sure," said Maj. Robert Nelson, Utah National Guard public affairs officer.
However, local Guard officials say the threat of being activated has local members scrambling to take care of unfinished business. Members are making sure equipment and weapons work properly and are more serious about their training.
"There seems to be a lot more interest in our drills," said Maj. Clark Christensen, administrative officer of the 1457th Engineers Battalion. "And even though we've gone through these classes more than 100 times, we're listening a lot harder when instruction is given out."
Members are also scrambling to make sure they are registered for the many family-support mechanisms provided by the National Guard. Members are making sure life insurance forms are updated and family medical plans contain all necessary information. Members are also making sure their families know what they should do if the call for active duty comes.
"We're doing all the things now that we should have done before, but for some reason we've been dragging our feet on," said Sgt. Duane Dudley, readiness non-commissioned officer for the 116th Engineers Battalion.
And even though most members are thinking about the possibility of being activated and their lives being disrupted, most know what is expected of them and are willing to serve if called. When a unit is activated, most members will be called to duty. However, National Guard guidelines do allow for some exclusions.
"We have not seen anybody jump up and want to get out because of what's going on," Christensen said.
"I've had some men with more than 20 years of service call and ask if they would have to go, too," Dudley said. "I told them that doesn't mean anything because they are just a number back at the Pentagon. If the call comes, we all go."
While on active duty, soldiers' jobs are protected and medical coverage is provided to their families. Most loans that a soldier has before being activated are frozen at an interest rate of 6 percent, and soldiers can have their paychecks deposited into a civilian account. The National Guard also has provisions for dependent care when necessary.
"There is enough support out there so a soldier in the field knows he and his family is taken care of," Nelson said.
The Utah National Guard's 125-member 625th Military Police Company, out of Murray, began active duty Thursday and leaves Sunday for last-minute training at Fort Carson, Colo. Other Utah National Guard units activated include a cell of the 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion and the 144th Evacuation Hospital.
Utah County National Guard units, specialty and approximate number of members.
- 1457th Commander Company C Engineers Battalion, 140 members, commanding the 1457th Engineers Battalion.
- Company B 19th Special Forces, 80 members, special airborne missions.
- Company C 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, 70 members, assisting combat commanders with language interpretation in the theater.
- 116th Engineers Battalion, 250 members, heavy equipment construction of roads and airfields.
- Battery C 1st Battalion 140th Field Artillery, 100 members, long-range artillery missions.
- 117th Engineers Company, 230 members, fast bridge assembly and mobility missions.
- 1457th Engineers Battalion, 200 members, field fortification and road building.
- 120th Quartermaster Detachment, 14 members, water purification (already activated).