Hundreds of Army National Guard soldiers are getting ready for deployment for an unspecified mission that includes about nine months of service in Kuwait.
About 250 soldiers attached to the 3rd Battalion of the 103rd Armor at Williamsport Armed Forces Reserve Center, 1307 Grove St., will be part of a ceremony Oct. 7, before leaving for two to three months of training at Camp Shelby, Miss., before their overseas mission, Sgt. Matthew Jones, a National Guard spokesman at Fort Indiantown Gap, said Wednesday.
It is a mission that will take the soldiers away from their homes during the holiday season and bring them home shortly before the holidays next year.
"Most of the soldiers have been aware they are scheduled to deploy for more than a year here and at Fort Indiantown Gap," Jones said.
Unable to specify the details of the mission, Jones said, the soldiers will be in a security operation in Kuwait, which borders the Persian Gulf and is sandwiched between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
It is most widely known as the site of the 1991 invasion by Saddam Hussein's military during the Persian Gulf War and since has become a centralized hub for the military in operations in Iraq and a launching point for work done in Afghanistan.
The expected deployment is for nine months and is new for this unit, Jones said. The soldiers report to the armory Oct. 6 in preparation for a ceremony, which is expected to include high-ranking officers.
The soldiers then will join the 55th Heavy Brigade Combat team in Scranton, Jones said. Part of the brigade - about 1,500 soldiers - is expected to mobilize and join more soldiers, bringing the number from the state to about 2,000, before they undergo two to three months of training at Camp Shelby.
There, the soldiers are acclimated to climates of the Mideast and receive additional training for an overseas mission to Kuwait.
"The mission is not for Afghanistan," Jones said.
As for issues on the homefront, Jones expects there to be enough manpower should the county and state require assistance in natural disasters. That is because the Army Reserve troops on Grove Street are not among the soldiers expected to be deploying.
The state has more than 19,000 National Guard troops and five Armed Forces Reserve Centers, he said.
The mobilization will impact the city police with the absence of Capt. Mike Orwig, a platoon sergeant who is one of those to be deployed.
Orwig will be the only city police officer away on active duty, said city Police Chief Gregory A. Foresman.
One other city police officer, Benjamin H. Laurenson III, was on active duty but is back and expected to return to his city position Monday, maintaining a police complement of 51, Foresman said.