Mississippi National Guard Unit Leaving For Training In Egypt

Like many Americans, Steven and Jenny Farragut learned about the start of U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan by watching television news reports. But, the news was even more personal for the Gulfport couple because Steven will leave Monday for Egypt for training with the Mississippi Army National Guard.

"It does intensify the awareness of what's going on," Steven said. "You pay close attention to your surroundings and the things that are happening, so it has intensified the feelings of going."

"I was not really surprised that it actually happened today," his wife said. "I was not real comfortable with it happening today with him about to leave for Egypt. I would have rather it been earlier or after he returned."

The 114th Area Support Group is a logistical unit that coordinates and provides things like food, medical supplies and ammunition to fighting units in the field. Steven says the group's mission will not change, but the training will likely be more intense.

"To get the realistic training, you can always plan and plan and plan, but till you can execute it in a very realistic environment, you never know if your plans are going to work," Steven said.

The most difficult part will be leaving his wife and two teenage children, but, he says he would be more than happy to fight for his country and for the safety of his family.

"It's just gotten to a point where something has to be done," Steven said. "The president has made his call, and we support him 100 percent. The military is ready and everybody's behind him and supporting him. Yes, we're ready to do something."

The training is scheduled to last three weeks, but there is always the possibility that once the unit gets there, they could be deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. If that happens, Steven Farragut says he's ready.

The training exercises the 114th is participating in are called Bright Star and will be going on the central part of Egypt about two hours southwest of Cairo at a U.S. military training base. Bright Star began in 1980 with U.S. and Egyptian army ground forces. In the 1990s, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Jordan joined in. This is the first year that the 114th Area Support Group has participated in the training.