Indiana soldiers called up for Egypt duty

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Some 440 Indiana soldiers are being called up for duty in Egypt, which has seen much unrest over the past few years.

Demonstrations in Egypt have turned violent as people celebrated the second anniversary of the revolution that unseated Hosni Mubarak and ushered in democratic reforms.

Eyewitness News talked with the Indiana National Guard about the nine-month mission ahead.

Indiana soldiers have a rich history of patrolling the world's hot spots, but the Hoosier state is about to step foot into a world that is synonymous with history.

For the last 31 years, American soldiers have helped patrol the border between Egypt and Israel as part of an international force enforcing the Middle East Peace Accord and Indiana is about to do its part.

We sat down with Command Sgt. Major Jack Hewitt in an empty room at Camp Atterbury and asked him, "When you think of soldiers being deployed you think of Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt never comes to mind."

He responded, "This is the first time the Indiana National Guard has sent a battalion size element for this mission."

But as the Arab Spring wears on the stability of the country is once again being called into question and something the 440 members of 1st Squadron 152nd Calvary, 76th Infantry Brigade are keeping a close eye on, including Sgt. Hewitt.

"The elevation of activity has us concerned a little bit, but we have put in all the safety measures and risk management that we possible can into the mission," said Sgt. Hewitt.

The soldiers have been training at Camp Atterbury for the last year and will most likely mobilize sometime this summer.

The 48-year-old North Vernon native and married father of five says the nine-month deployment will also offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for soldiers to see a part of the world most people only read about. He says the living arrangement is pretty standard.

"Not a whole lot different than what soldiers would see in any other mission they would go on," he said.

With one big exception. This is a compliance observation mission along one of the most contentious borders in the world. Hewitt outlined the area in question.

"Southern end to the Sinai, all the way to the Gaza Strip, on the border between Egypt and Israel."

Those soldiers training at Camp Atterbury have plenty of company because a similar size contingent from the same brigade is training to deploy to the Horn of Africa.