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Alabama Army Guard has nation’s third highest post-9/11 deployments

MONTGOMERY (AP) — The Alabama Army National Guard has had the nation’s third-highest number of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Some 7,200 Alabama Army Guard soldiers have been deployed in and around Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11, according to Guard figures.

Only populous Texas and California have had a higher number of deployments. Texas, according to National Guard Bureau numbers, has had 8,619, while California has had 8,182.

Lt. Col. Jim Hawkins, the Alabama Army Guard’s training officer, called the deployment number “a stellar reflection” on the state Army Guard’s “patriotism and dedication” since the 9/11 attacks.

“It is particularly telling when you realize that during this same period, the Alabama Guard served over 12,000 man-hours in support of Hurricane Ivan recovery, over 70,000 man-hours in support of post-Katrina operations and more during hurricanes Dennis and Rita and the Enterprise tornado,” Hawkins added.

Alabama’s Army Guard, according to the state and federal figures reported Wednesday, is the nation’s fifth largest, with 11,202 soldiers. The deployment figures do not mean that 7,200 separate individuals from the state have been sent to Iraq or Afghanistan.

A number of Army Guard members have been deployed more than once, and some are now in their third Iraq tour.

The deployment numbers also do not include Alabama men and women serving with Army Guard units from other states. Alabama’s Army Guard also has members from other states.

As is the case with other Army Guards from around the country, the largest number of post-9/11 deployments for the Alabama Army Guard — nearly 6,400 — has been in and around Iraq.

Alabama’s Iraq total

When compared with National Guard Bureau deployment figures for other states, Alabama’s Iraq total is the nation’s fourth highest, behind Texas, California and Tennessee. Its total of Afghanistan deployments, 814, is the 10th highest.

Several hundred state Army Guard soldiers recently have returned from Iraq. Once they all have arrived, the state will have around 650 Army Guard soldiers, in seven units, in and around Iraq. Sixteen Army Guard members also are in Afghanistan, training Afghan soldiers and police.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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