WASHINGTON – One out of every 920 Marylanders age 18 or older is on active duty from a reserve or National Guard unit, putting Maryland squarely in the middle of states for the percentage of residents deployed.
As of April 9, there were 4,266 reservists and guardsmen deployed from Maryland, whose military forces include infantry, heavy support, command, engineering, police battalions and companies. The state has no particular military specialty, Defense Department officials said, which may be one reason why Maryland is not seeing a larger percentage of its forces called up.
“We are pretty well rounded,” said Maj. Charles Kohler, Maryland National Guard spokesman. “Maryland is very fortunate in that respect.”
A Capital News Service analysis of Pentagon deployment data showed that 24 percent of the enlisted reservists and guardsmen based in Maryland were on active duty as of April 9.
South Dakota had the highest percentage of both its over-18 population and its military reservists deployed. One of every 285 adult South Dakotans has been called up, while 39 percent of its reserve and guard units, or 1,942 soldiers, has been deployed.
South Dakota was first in deployments even though it ranks 47th in the country for its population over age 18. California, by contrast, has the largest number of persons 18 and over, but ranks 49th in the percentage of persons 18 and over deployed.
The lowest states for call-ups were Hawaii and Alaska, which have had just 2 percent of their enlisted personnel deployed.
Call-ups are based on each unit’s specialty and not on the location of the units, said Pentagon officials. Not all of the deployments are to war zones; several Maryland units have been posted around the state or to other parts of the country to help in homeland defense.
“We have been tapped continuously since Sept. 11,” Kohler said. “It’s been continuous and pretty steady.”
He said when one unit goes, another comes back, and no deployment is particularly larger than any other.
Defense Department officials said that is the way things are across the country — call-ups are pretty steady.
“All 54 U.S. states and territories have contributed to war on terrorism,” said Lt. Col. Dan Stoneking, a Pentagon spokesman.
In the city of Aberdeen, population 13,800, there have been 60 residents called to active duty and the rest of the town has been “rallying around” the families of those soldiers, said Mayor Douglas S. Wilson.
“Aberdeen is doing their part in the war,” Wilson said.
Yellow-ribboned trees line the median of Route 22, which runs through Aberdeen straight into Aberdeen Proving Grounds, the largest military base in Maryland and biggest employer in Harford County. As of the beginning of April, 225 reserve and guardsmen were deployed from the base.
Wilson said that the increase in activity has affected the community, but it’s still been “business as usual.”
State figures in the CNS analysis include deployments from Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Guam, and reservists stationed overseas. The analysis compared enlisted numbers from the Defense Department as of August 2002 with 2002 state population estimates from the Census Bureau.