Maine Guard awaits policy on deployments


PORTLAND (AP) – The Maine National Guard reaffirmed Friday that none of its units is included in President Bush’s planned buildup in Iraq, even as it awaited word on a policy change that could make the state’s citizen-soldiers eligible for future deployments.

The Defense Department said it was lifting the 24-month cumulative limit on the amount of time that Guard or Reserve members serve on active duty for the Iraq or Afghan wars.

Maj. Michael Backus, spokesman for the Maine Guard, said he had yet to receive official notification of the new policy.

“We were under the impression that the 24-month mobilization policy had not changed,” Backus said. “Before we put out additional information, we want to gather the correct written guidance and policies to insure that our soldiers get the most accurate and timely information.”

Maj. Gen. Bill Libby, Maine’s adjutant general, will meet with reporters as soon as the new guidance is received, Backus said.

“This may happen this weekend, and we’re on standby just in case.”

Libby announced Thursday that he was told that most of the 21,500 additional troops to be sent to Iraq would be coming from active duty units of the Army and Marines, along with a brigade from the Minnesota National Guard.

Because most of Maine’s Guard members had already served the maximum 24 months, they would not be called again, he said.

But conflicting information about the 24-month policy from Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, raised questions about whether Maine units could be subject to further deployments.