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Local guard unit on "alert" while call up seems likely

By RICHARD SHAW
Staff reporter

A rumor running around Price in the last couple of days that the local unit of the 1457th Engineer Combat Battalion is being called to active duty was not confirmed by the Utah National Guard on Wednesday morning. However, the state organization did say that the unit has been placed on an "alert" status.

That word came from Lieutenant Colonel Brad Blackner, a public affairs officer for the Guard.

"What an alert is is that soldiers are supposed to start getting things in order in case they are called up," said Blackner in a phone interview.

The stories about a call-up reached a crescendo on Wednesday morning when students at the College of Eastern Utah campus started withdrawing from school, many of them saying that they were going to have to go on active duty.

The 1457th is based in American Fork and has subordinate units in many small Utah towns besides Price, including Blanding (where students were also withdrawing from school at CEU's campus there), Vernal and Mount Pleasant. Subordinate units also exist along the Wasatch Front in Murray, Spanish Fork and Tooele.

This coming weekend the entire battalion (528 soldiers) will travel to Camp Williams in northern Utah County for what is called "Soldier readiness" training according to Blackner.

"There they will go through training that prepares them for active duty," he said. "They will also fill out paper work that would be needed if they are called up."

According to the guard the mission of the 1457th is to provide survivability, mobility, counter-mobility and sustainment engineering to the maneuver commander. During wartime, the engineer's contribution to the success of the infantry or armor units is considered to be a combat multiplier. It is a mission the soldiers of the 1457th Battalion take seriously. The Battalion is prepared to construct combat roads, airfields, and protective shelters, as well as to conduct demolition and mine and counter-mine warfare.

However, the "alert" is just that but with everything that has been happening it, in all probability, could mean a call up.

"It doesn't absolutely mean mobilization, but it is likely," concluded Blackner.





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