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Guard troops alerted for deployment

About 2,700 Minnesota National Guard soldiers have been alerted to prepare for deployment to Iraq and Kuwait next year, which means Austin troops will be ready, too.

The Bloomington-based 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota Army National Guard, will help provide security to other forces when they head overseas next summer. The deployment is part of Operation New Dawn, which is the name of the U.S. drawdown phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, consists of 37 units from 42 Minnesota communities. That includes Austin troops, who serve as a support unit to the Mankato-based 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry.

Austin Sgt. First Class Scott Wermager said he doesn’t know how many, if any, Austin soldiers will be called when the final list of deploying units is determined and announced early next year.

“It’s been something we’ve been expecting,” Wermager said of the alert. “We’re just training up.”

The Austin support unit was last deployed to Iraq from June 2004 to November 2005. In July 2007, the unit was deployed to Kosovo, returning a year later.