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Thousands Of Idaho Troops To Deploy Overseas

Troy Maben
AP Photos
Idaho National Guardsmen at Gowen Field in Boise waiting to go to Texas for training before being deployed to Iraq in 2004.

Thousands of Idaho troops are slated to head overseas this spring with global military tensions high.



In Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s State of The State address Monday,he said 4,000 members of the Idaho Army National Guard are headed to Germany this spring for a massive military exercise. They will be some of the roughly 20,000 U.S. troops participating in Defender 2020, one of the largest post-Cold War U.S. deployments to Europe.


Similar exercises have become more common as relations between the U.S. and Russia have deteriorated.


“The purpose of that exercise is to demonstrate the U.S. military’s ability to rapidly deploy a large combat force of soldiers and equipment from the United States to Europe in support of our national defense strategy and NATO objectives,” Idaho National Guard Lt. Col. Christopher Borders said.


Little also announced an additional 400 airmen from the Idaho Air National Guard will deploy in support of combat operations to Southwest Asia. In military jargon, that often refers to the Middle East.


The announcement comes at a time when many worry about the possibility of a military escalation with Iran after theU.S. assassinated that country’s top military leader, General Qasem Soleimani.


But Borders said the deployments were pre-planned and not a response to recent events.


The twin deployments represent nearly the entire roughly 5,000-troop contingent that makes up the Idaho National Guard, though Borders says a reserve force left behind will be ready to respond to any state emergencies.


Follow Heath Druzin on Twitter, @HDruzin


Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio

Heath Druzin was Boise State Public Radio’s Guns & America fellow from 2018-2020, during which he focused on extremist movements, suicide prevention and gun culture.

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