776th mobilized for duty by Department of Military

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   The 776th Maintenance Company based in Elizabethton has been mobilized for an initial period of up to one year of active duty, according to the Tennessee Department of Military.
   "The 776th Maintenance Company will mobilize at their home stations on or about 27 Jan., 2003," said Randy Harris, director of public affairs for the Tennessee National Guard in Nashville. "They are then scheduled to move to their mobilization station at Fort Campbell, Ky., on or about 30 Jan., 2003."
   The state's adjutant general, Major General Gus Hargett, issued the announcement Wednesday. Once at Fort Campbell, members are expected to receive orders regarding their deployment.
   "They should be finishing up administrative tasks and pre-mobilization training, making sure everything is right from where they are deployed," said Harris.
   The 776th is part of the 176th Maintenance Battalion headquartered in Gray. Approximately 175 Tennessee soldiers are involved in the mobilization. The 776th provides support and mechanical maintenance for almost all wheeled military vehicles ranging from jeeps to utility vehicles. The company also maintains a detachment in Mountain City.
   This latest mobilization brings the total Tennessee Army & Air National Guard members currently serving on active duty to 1,178.
   Captain Patrick Ellis of the 776th confirmed the unit would be on its way to Fort Campbell, but gave no details about the company's status or where the unit members might be deployed.
   "We will find out that part once we get there," he said.
   While there is no official word about where Guard units could be deployed, the ongoing saga between the United States, the United Nations and Iraq continues to dominate the international spotlight.
   U.N. weapons inspectors are scheduled to give a report to the U.N. Security Council about the first 60 days of inspections in Iraq on Monday.
   The White House recently released a report entitled "Apparatus of Lies" discussing alleged Iraqi propaganda and disinformation campaigns.
   A buildup of tens of thousands of U.S. military troops is expected to reach 150,000 around the Persian Gulf within the next few weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
   The 776th was placed on alert for possible mobilization by the Tennessee Army National Guard on Dec. 14. The 176th has not been mobilized for duty, according to the state department of military.
   The 176th was not the only Tennessee Guard unit that received word of mobilization on Wednesday.
   The department of military also announced that Detachment 1, 146th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), from Knoxville was being mobilized for an initial period of up to one year.
   The 146th Medical Company was scheduled to mobilize at their home stations on Monday and move to their mobilization station on Friday.
   State Guard units including a field artillery battalion based in Memphis and an engineering company from Paris were mobilized in November. Military police units from Lebanon and Dixon were mobilized in December to join an MP unit from Murfreesboro, which was mobilized in November.
   Guard battalions range from engineering and transportation units to military police and medical detachments.
   Members of the 776th Maintenance Company were among 15 Tennessee Army and six Air National Guard units called up to support Desert Storm and Shield military operations in 1991. Roughly 3,600 men and women from Tennessee National Guard units served in Iraq during those military operations.