For the first time in a decade, the entire 30th Armored Brigade is deploying together overseas.
The North Carolina National Guard's 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team is at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California with others from West Virginia, South Carolina, and Ohio.
The 4,200 citizen-soldiers, 2,700 of which are North Carolinians, are training for a nine-month deployment this fall to the Middle East.
"They're living in the desert, they're sleeping in the desert, they're doing the maintenance in the desert," said Brig. Gen. Allen Boyette, NCNG Asst. Adjutant Gen. for Maneuver. "The challenge is getting the water to the right place, getting the ice to the right place."
In a Skype interview from Fort Irwin on day 10 of a 14-day training mission, Boyette told ABC11 that soldiers who traveled from across the country with much of their equipment, had time to set up before heading into the Mojave Desert where they're now on their own.
They're training against a unit of Army soldiers known as Black Horse who live there and know the terrain well.
"We want the training to be realistic," Boyette said. "We want it to be difficult because what we want to do is prepare them for anything that they may see when they deploy and get to the Middle East."
While the 30th Brigade is overseas this fall during the Atlantic hurricane season, Boyette said North Carolinians will be in good hands.
"We've got other national guardsmen that are on standby that are back in North Carolina that are prepared and ready to support our citizens," he said.
North Carolina National Guardsmen training for 9-month deployment to Middle East