The National Guard uses the “on alert” status as a way to forewarn companies and their families that they may be needed for a mission or deployment. The 211th unit is based in Haywood County and the 210th in Macon County.
“It just means that they have the potential of being mobilized. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be used,” said Cpt. Rick Scoggins, a spokesman with the North Carolina National Guard.
The alert status triggers units to start training more intensely. What type of drills the unit does is dictated by what sort of job the military has in mind for them.
Scoggins declined to say what task the 210th and 211th National Guard companies could be expected to perform or where they might end up but did say more specific information could be available in the future.
“We typically don’t like to put that out too far in advance,” Scoggins said.
The units are no stranger to deployment. The 211th from Haywood County went to Afghanistan for a year in 2002, and was barely home a year before being redeployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. The 210th was also deployed to Iraq in 2003. Both also served in Operation Desert Storm in1990.
A unit could be on alert for few months or even a year before it is shipped out.
“Typically, the military likes to do planning as far out as possible,” Scoggins said.
However, it could also stay on alert for a while and then have the alert status dropped, meaning the unit isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Military police units are often called on to guard prisoners or run security patrols.
But they can also be sent on humanitarian efforts, such as one unit that is serving in the Horn of Africa to dig wells, or to areas that are not war-zones per se, such as units sent to Egypt as part of a multinational security effort to keep the peace.
“We are not just an organization that is built on going out and killing people and breaking things,” Scoggins said. “We really provides a full spectrum of support to every mission.”