National Guard deployment is largest in NJ history

The state?s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Glenn Rieth, announced Thursday that the state?s 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will deploy to Iraq during 2008.

The deployment means more than 3,200 New Jersey soldiers will soon be in Iraq and Afghanistan. The upcoming deployment will be the largest in New Jersey National Guard history, representing about half the state?s 6,200 soldiers.

Rieth said training begins immediately and Gov. Jon Corzine said the troops will likely be in Iraq starting in June. This will be the 50th Brigade?s second tour of Iraq, which had been deployed there in 2004.

Corzine blasts the impending troop deployment. He said the large deployment of state National Guard troops represents an overuse of the citizen soldiers that undermines their purpose.

Rieth assured the governor that the deployments will not prevent the National Guard from responding to emergencies in the Garden State.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the state has mobilized approximately 7,000 National Guard troops, either overseas or in the United States.

AP wire reports contributed to this story.

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