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Demopolis National Guard unit re-designated

Demopolis’s Alabama National Guard Unit, the 167th Engineer Company, has been “re-designated” in what could be a prelude to the unit being deployed in the War on Terror in Iraq.

After several weeks of local speculation, Lt. Col. Brian Barrentine of the 31st Support Battalion in Enterprise confirmed that the Demopolis unit would no longer serve as a “bridge” unit and would instead be classified as a “logistical” unit that will help with soldier transportation.

“It is being re-designated to form a forward support company,” Barrentine said. .”The previous mission of the unit was to help with the crossings of water bodies during wartime. The current mission of the unit, though, will be to provide logistical support for the brigade.”

Barrentine said that there was no connection between the 167th’s re-designation and its chances of being deployed overseas, but added that those chances, unfortunately, were good to begin with.

“I think what I could say is that the likelihood is no greater now that before the re-designation,” he said. “That likelihood has always been very good. That unit has some very good soldiers who have demonstrated their ability…the probability of their deployment isn’t any greater now than it was before. But everybody’s got to be prepared.”

The re-designation has come about, Barrentine said, partially because of the decline in the need and importance of “bridge” units, and partially because of a change in the needs of the companies served by the Alabama National Guard.

“It’s a function of the way we’re currently organized. The A company in Northport, before this action, had approximately 40 soldiers. It was decided in this reorganization that they would need 200 soldiers,” he said. “Simultaneously, they said we don’t need the same number of bridge units. So it’s a natural transformation. They were looking around for candidates in the geographical area for units whose mission was no longer being emphasized, and this was one.”

The 167th was called into active duty in early 2003 and served for several months at Fort Benning, GA, but was not deployed to Iraq.