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Major Deployment for NC National Guard

Nearly 4,000 National Guard soldiers are leaving their North Carolina homes this week for a year-long deployment in Iraq. The 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team is the largest unit in the North Carolina National Guard with, with about a quarter of its soldiers based in the Charlotte area. This week the unit deploys for its second tour in Iraq where National Guard spokesman Major Matt Handley says they will focus on counterinsurgency efforts "to help train the security forces in Iraq. Help them with their logistical operations, to kind of be a backstop for them if needed. Not so much direct combat type operations, which was more in line with their first mobilization back in 2004." Major Handley says members of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team will spend the next few months training at Fort Bragg and Fort Stewart. They'll be home briefly for Christmas and then ship out for Iraq. At that point, almost half of all North Carolina's 12,000 National Guard troops will be overseas. North Carolina's been through this before. Back in 2004, 64 percent of the state's National Guard troops were deployed overseas. With this week's deployment, barely six thousand National Guard soldiers are left in North Carolina to handle hurricanes, storms and other disasters. As long as nothing big happens, Major Handley says the National Guard can handle it. "Anything from about a category three hurricane or below," says Handley. "Anything larger than that and we'll have to request assistance. But a snowstorm type event, those type of things, we still have a lot of our transportation and logistical units that are spread throughout the state and will be able to assist our citizens if needed." If an emergency is too big for North Carolina's remaining troops, Major Handley says the state has arranged to borrow National Guard support from neighboring states.