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Conn. National Guard soldiers ready for largest deployment in eight years

In a March, 2020 photo, soldiers assigned to the Connecticut National Guard, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment receive a mission briefing at the Middletown, Conn. Armed Forces Reserve Center. The soldiers were placed on State Active Duty orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

TAMARA R. DABNEY/NATIONAL GUARD

By JESSICA LERNER | Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn. | Published: October 19, 2020

MANCHESTER, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — A unit from the Connecticut National Guard will be heading overseas next year in what is expected to be the largest state deployment in eight years.

More than 600 personnel from the unit, the 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment, will be deploying in support of security operations to the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility.

Capt. Dave Pytlik, who serves as public affairs officer for the Connecticut National Guard, said he was unable to provide more details about the deployment due to operational security.

The unit comprises companies in New Haven/Branford, Danbury, New Britain, Middletown, and Southington and is one of the oldest units in the nation, with roots going back to the 1600s. It is headquartered in New Haven.

Though the unit is part of the Connecticut National Guard, which normally is controlled by Gov. Ned Lamont for in-state activities such as COVID-19 response this year, Pytlik said the unit falls under the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Vermont, for its federal mission.

Pytlik said the reason this unit was selected for deployment is the amount of hard work it has put in over the past several years to meet stringent training and readiness "gates."

The captain said the unit has met its lofty goals when others did not and they were selected for, and successfully completed, a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center last year.

The Training Center, in Louisiana, is one of the three premier Combat Training Centers around the world where Army brigades complete large force-on-force training and validation.

Because of its success, the unit also has been beneficiary of many additional Department of Defense resources to achieve this level of training and readiness.

Along with the 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment, Pytlik said, about 10 other Connecticut National Guard units are in the deployment window — recently returned, currently deployed, or set to deploy within the next year around the world.

This means approximately 1,300 soldiers and airmen will be leaving their families, friends, and jobs for a while to fulfill their commitment to service, he said.

"Through all of this our commitment to the state and our neighbors will not waiver and whatever global pandemic, natural disaster, or time of need arises/persists in our communities we remain ready and willing to help here at home as we always do," Pytlik said. "We cannot do this without the support of our family, friends, neighbors, and employers."

(c)2020 Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn.
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