278th Armored Cavalry Regiment put on alert for duty in Iraq

The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment has been put on alert by the Department of Defense as one of four brigade combat teams that could be deploying as soon as 2009.

An alert gives the personnel time to do administrative and operational things they need to get done if and when they do receive a mobilization order, said Sgt. Randy Harris, director of joint public affairs office of the Tennessee National Guard.

Harris stressed that they don’t have a definite time frame for when the 278th will go. “There are four brigade combat teams being alerted. Those teams will not go at the same time. I don’t know if the 278th is first or last,” he said. “We knew this was coming. It’s not a surprise. This is following the same schedule the D.O.D. had talked about. It’s not a surprise to any of us.”

When asked about the amount of equipment the regiment left in Iraq following its 2004-05 tour, Harris said about $157 million worth of equipment stayed in Iraq from the 278th.

“The D.O.D. has developed a plan to reset states that left equipment, and they’ve lived up to that plan. I’d say the 278th is 100 percent on trucks. They are still short some Humvee and night vision devices,” he said. “They will get those before they go back in country.”

While having enough Humvees with adequate armor was an issue during the regiment’s 2004-05 tour, Harris said that shouldn’t be a problem this time.

“We don’t see that it will be an issue,” he said. “The majority of Humvees in Iraq are up-armored. I don’t think that is an issue right now.”

While armored cavalry is the main mission of the regiment, they also know how to provide security. “This mission is different. Security is a secondary mission, but it’s something they’re well-versed in,” Harris said.

Harris said the 278th would include about 4,000 people, approximately 500 more than they took in their last deployment. “The regiment stretches from Kingsport all the way to Memphis,” he said. “It’s very diverse with a lot of capability.”

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