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New Guard Unit

A Nebraska Army National Guard airborne soldier steps off of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter Saturday during a training exercise. The Nebraska Army National Guard's newly activated 2nd Battalion, 134th Infantry Regiment, conducted its first airborne training exercise Saturday at the Husker Drop Zone near Yutan.

YUTAN — The Nebraska Army National Guard has established a new infantry battalion, an outfit that a general says could help recruitment of people looking for adventure.

The 2nd Battalion, 134th Infantry Regiment was activated during a ceremony Saturday at the guard's parachute-landing area near Yutan. It was followed by a parachute jump by more than 100 members from a helicopter hovering 1,000 feet in the air.

"This is just the beginning of a new chapter in Nebraska, getting this infantry battalion back," said Lt. Col. Ted Hanger, the new unit's commanding officer. "We are the queen of battle for our unparalleled mobility, and we will not let that tradition down."

The Nebraska Army National Guard has been dominated by support units for years. Its only other designated fighting unit is the 1st of the 134th Cavalry, a reconnaissance outfit.

Adding an infantry battalion should boost state recruiting, said Brig. Gen. Lynn Heng.

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"It's a very attractive unit for these young folks who are looking for adventure, joining the guard," Heng said.

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Recruitment hasn't been a problem, said spokesman Maj. Scott Ingalsbe. The guard sits at about 91% of authorized strength and has been meeting its recruitment goals, he told The Associated Press on Tuesday. But he also said the new unit will help the guard maintain its ranks.

Many of the 282 soldiers assigned to the unit so far were part of the 195th Forward Support Company, an Omaha-based airborne unit that had supported special forces units since it was formed 12 years ago. That unit was deactivated more than a week ago.

Other members moved over from a long-range surveillance unit and from a ground ambulance unit that had been based in Lincoln.

The new battalion will have about 580 soldiers when it's at full strength, Ingalsbe said.

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