MADISON, Wis. — More than 350 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers will deploy to the Middle East this summer.
The Milwaukee-based 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, which consists of Battery A (Sussex, Wisconsin), Battery B (Plymouth, Wisconsin), the 108th Forward Support Company (Sussex), and its Milwaukee headquarters battery will deploy in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
The high-mobility artillery rocket system – or HIMARS – unit provides devastating, precision rocket and missile fires onto enemy positions, targets of significance and opportunity in support of coalition forces operating in the region.
Elements of the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery have deployed numerous times since Sept. 11, 2001, including in 2006 and 2009. The battalion deployed to Iraq in 2006-07 on a convoy escort mission, and elements of the battalion deployed again to Iraq in 2009-10. Battery B deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 where it made history as the first National Guard HIMARS unit to conduct a combat fire support mission in Afghanistan. Battery A became just the third National Guard HIMARS unit to do the same when it deployed to Afghanistan in 2014.
The Wisconsin National Guard remains heavily engaged fulfilling its mission as a key component of the primary combat reserve of the Army and Air Force. More than 25 Soldiers from the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade’s Military Engagement Team deployed to the Middle East in March, and a team of Soldiers from the 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment deployed to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in March to provide public affairs support there. Wisconsin Army National Guard aviators from Detachment 5, 641st Aviation deployed to Afghanistan earlier this spring, and Soldiers from the 248th Aviation Support Battalion deployed to the Middle East in September. Approximately 85 Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in January, and 35 Soldiers from West Bend’s Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan in November.
Also in November, approximately 270 Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing returned to Madison from a deployment to Korea, and more than 100 Airmen from the 128th Air Control Squadron at Volk Field returned from Southwest Asia. Approximately 70 Airmen from the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee are in the midst of deployments worldwide, and other Airmen from the 128th deployed earlier in the fall as well.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin National Guard has been busy fulfilling its other mission as the state’s first military responder in times of emergency. Last fall, the Wisconsin National Guard deployed Soldiers and Airmen to Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with hurricane recovery efforts, and Soldiers responded on multiple occasions to flooding last summer in Monroe County and Burlington, Wisconsin.The Wisconsin National Guard is planning a sendoff ceremony for the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery and will release those details at a later date.