776th placed on alert for possible mobilization

By Julie Fann and
Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
jfann@starhq.com,
twilson@starhq.com

  
It's official.
   The 776th Maintenance Company has been placed on alert for possible mobilization by the Tennessee National Guard, according to the state's Adjutant General of the state Department of Military.
   The Adjutant General Major General Gus Hargett officially announced Thursday that the Company was on alert for possible mobilization in support of Operation Noble Eagle/Enduring Freedom.
   "The 776th Maintenance Company in Elizabethton and Mountain City is alerted for possible mobilization as a result of the Presidential declaration on 14 September 2001," said Hargett in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
   "While the unit is not currently ordered to mobilize, they are conducting sensible planning and making preparations in the event we are called. We are trained, ready, and committed to do whatever the national command authority deems necessary."
   The 776th Maintenance Company has approximately 200 guard members who provide mechanical support and service for machinery and vehicles. The Company also maintaions a detachment in Mountain City.
   National Guard officers underscored the word "possible" mobilization when speaking of any potential movement of the Company into a theater of combat.
   Randy Harris, Public Affairs Officer for the Tennessee National Guard, said being on alert means the 776th has the capability to do a mission that has been identified by the National Command Authority (the president and secretary of defense).
   "What an alert does, it gives the unit time to take care of administrative and operational checks to ensure unit readiness to go," Harris said.
   Walter Pierce, a member of the 776th unit and executive director of the county's 911 Communications District, spoke to the alert of possible mobilization earlier this week.
   "January 11 is our regular drill meeting," said Pierce, "but that is not to say that we are going anywhere."
   Pierce was a 776th member when 15 Tennessee Army and six Air National Guard units were called to support Desert Storm and Shield military operations in 1991.
   Guard units, including a field artillery battalion based in Memphis and an engineering company from Paris, have been mobilized, according to Harris.
   Military police units from Lebanon and Dixon were mobilized last week to join an MP unit from Murfreesboro, which was mobilized last month, he added.