The soldiers are from all over the county, but now they're part of the same unit, training at Fort Rucker for the War on Terror.
It's not odd to see a National Guard unit deploy for Iraqi freedom. In fact, about 12,000 Alabama Army National Guard soldiers have been activated.
But what may seem odd is that 2,700 soldiers from 44 states are preparing to deploy. The soldiers are all apart of the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade’s theater immersion training exercise. They are the largest Army National Guard unit to deploy.
Right now, they're stationed at Fort Rucker. What this allows us to do is simulate enemy action so our crews can be prepared
For a little more than three months the soldiers have split training between Fort Hood Texas, and Fort Rucker. The Fort Rucker training allows the unit to simulate attacks, conduct lifts, and perform Medivac missions. The simulation looks and feels like the real thing; the actual Iraqi terrain layout is recreated at Fort Rucker.
“The great thing about doing it in simulation if there's something you want to improve on you can hit the switch and start over to replicate that at Fort Hood - would eat up enormous hours of our flight aircraft,” said LTG Russel L. Honore of 36th Commanding General.
They also have the expertise of the soldiers who work in the center all the time.
The Theater Immersion Program is one of the newer types of training at Fort Rucker. Because the 36th CAB Unit is so large they'll deploy to fight for Iraqi freedom in phases over the next two months.
At the end of this week, they'll fly back to Killeen, Texas where they'll have a send-off ceremony. The soldiers will return in one year.
This is the first National Guard CAB to deploy in support of Iraqi freedom. Of those 2, 700 soldiers, 260 are from Alabama.