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PA National Guard unlikely to go to Syria if conflict erupts

Updated: Thursday, August 29 2013, 05:50 PM CDT
Reported by: Jesse Knutson

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP -- The Pennsylvania National Guard is always on-call for any situation, whether it is at home, or abroad. With the possibility of the United States getting involved from a military aspect in Syria, many Americans wonder what it will mean for their local troops.

Here in Pennsylvania, the National Guard does not expect to have a major role in the conflict, but they’re ready for any potential orders. In an interview with PBS, President Obama said that the U.S. Government has concluded that the Syrian government carried out chemical weapon attacks, killing hundreds.

“There need(s) to be international consequences,” Obama proclaimed. “We do have to make sure that when countries breaking international norms on weapons, like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable.”

The Pennsylvania National Guard has welcomed home 1,500 soldiers from Kuwait and Afghanistan this year, and they’re ready to send out more troops, if needed.

“The Pennsylvania National Guard is always ready to be called, whether it’s by the Governor in the case of a natural disaster, or by the President in the case of overseas operations,” Staff Sergeant Matthew Jones, Public Affairs Specialist for the Pennsylvania National Guard said.

Jones explained that when soldiers have just gotten home, they have a ‘reset year’ in which they stay home. Over the next few years, the troops are trained further before being deployed again. The only exception of this rule is if the troops volunteer to be re-deployed, or if specialists are needed.

Jones says the Pennsylvania National Guard has not changed its daily routine as a result of the conflict in Syria, and everything is business as usual. President Obama made it clear during the PBS interview that he does not plan on repeating what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan with troops staying for an extended period of time.

“I have no interest in any kind of open-ended conflict in Syria,” Obama said.  Jones further explained that the National Guard would play a small part in Syria, if they were called to help.

“The President in this case has emphatically stated that he doesn’t foresee a situation in which American U.S. boots will be on the ground in Syria, so it’s not really something we’re spending a lot of time and energy on right now,” Jones said. 

The Pennsylvania National Guard is spread out throughout 90 communities in Pennsylvania, and at this time, Jones says they’re focused on potential problems closer to home.

“Right now, this time of year, we’re really thinking more about hurricane season coming than anything else," Jones added.

If the Pennsylvania National Guard is called upon to help with the Syrian conflict, the 193rd Division would likely be the first to respond. The 193rd carries out airborne broadcast missions, focusing on dropping leaflets and sending out radio signals. 
PA National Guard unlikely to go to Syria if conflict erupts

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