Gov. Chris Gregoire today met with Washington Army National Guard troops in Iraq. The governor is visiting Iraq with a delegation including Governors John Corzine (D-NJ) and Rick Perry (R-TX).
“In August, I had the honor of participating in the farewell ceremony for the Washington Army National Guard troops in Yakima as they left to serve Operation Iraqi Freedom. I promised I would visit them and it is with great humility that I acknowledge their critical service for our state and our country,” Gregoire said in a statement. “On behalf of all Washingtonians, I thank the troops, as well as their families at home, for their great sacrifice.”
While in Iraq, Gregoire and the delegation met with service members from Washington state and around the United States, senior military and public officials. Prior to leaving for Iraq, the delegation met in Washington D.C. with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. Secretary Gates thanked them for their continued support of the troops and making this visit a priority.
Approximately 2,500 members of the Washington National Guard are currently serving in locations around the world. Of that number, about 2,400 are members of the 81st Brigade serving in Iraq. The Brigade’s focus in Iraq is convoy security and force protection operations. The 81st also served in Iraq from March 2004 to March 2005.
“We come away with a better understanding of the incredible circumstances the troops face each day and how we can better support the troops and their families while they are abroad,” Gregoire added.