300 LA-based National Guard troops to deploy to Iraq

ANAHEIM — More than 300 members of a California Army National Guard's aviation battalion based in Los Angeles will gather with their families at the Hilton Anaheim Hotel on Saturday in advance of a yearlong deployment to Iraq.

Maj. John Harrel, the head of the California Army National Guard, will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony, which starts at 10 a.m.

The soldiers will leave Sunday from Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base and go to Fort Hood, Texas, where they will spend six weeks training for deployment, said Army National Guard Sgt. Jon Guibord.

The battalion will serve a key role in supporting the troop "rdrawdown'' in Iraq, especially in the country's central region, he said.

The battalion, dubbed Task Force Long Knife, will provide aviation support to military personnel across Iraq.

The California Army National Guard is made up of about 20,000 soldiers from the California National Guard, the Army and the U.S. National Guard.