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FORT WAYNE, IND. — The Army’s decision to cancel an Indiana National Guard unit’s deployment to Africa has some soldiers looking to find jobs.
The 293rd Infantry Regiment based in Fort Wayne planned a job fair Friday at its armory with about 30 employers. Some 500 members of the regiment’s 1st Battalion were scheduled to leave in June for a deployment to Africa that was expected to last nearly a year.
“The whole purpose of this job fair is to help guys who didn’t make a plan for being here this year,” Indiana National Guard spokesman Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Scotten told The Journal Gazette.
Deployments for about 900 Indiana National Guard troops were called off in March because of automatic federal budget cuts. That included the Fort Wayne unit’s assignment to a U.S. joint task force providing security in Ethiopia, Kenya and other East African nations, a job for which the soldiers had trained for about two years.
About 400 soldiers from units based in the southern Indiana cities of New Albany and Scottsburg had been scheduled to report to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.
At the request of Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., the Army agreed in April to delay the cancellations and provide an extra month of pay and medical benefits to affected personnel. Guard members are compensated during training drills and when they are placed on active duty.
Donnelly said last month the Indiana Guard members had “delayed their educations, asked their employers to find replacement workers and canceled or changed their leases on cars and homes” because of the scheduled deployment.
Scotten said the Fort Wayne unit will return to its normal schedule of monthly drills and two weeks of training during the summer.
Numerous units from among the 14,000-member Indiana National Guard have been deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and other countries over the past decade.