1,900 Vermont guardsmen to take part in major training exercise

COLCHESTER (AP) -- The Vermont Army National Guard’s 86th Brigade Combat Team is going to be taking part in a three-week training exercise in Louisiana next year.

The Vermont unit will be the only National Guard unit to take part in the exercise, to be held in June at the Fort Polk Joint Readiness Training Center in Leesville, La.

"It’s the first time since prior to 2001 that a Guard brigade will go and do a decisive action rotation," said brigade commander Col. John Boyd of Huntington. "It’s quite an honor to be selected."

The exercise will last three weeks, rather than the guard’s traditional two-week summer training exercise.

Boyd tells the Burlington Free Press the Guard will ask firms that employ Guard members to allow them an extra week away from work.

The 1,900 Vermont soldiers slated to go to Fort Polk make up nearly half of the Vermont Army Guard. They will be joined by smaller units from Michigan, Colorado, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Three active duty Army brigades will also be participating in the training.

The Fort Polk training will involve a rare force-on-force fighting experience for the soldiers, in addition to the counter-insurgency training that has been the major focus of training since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

"It will as closely replicate the battlefield as possible without actually being there," Boyd said. "There will be jets and they will drop bombs. There will be live fire. It will be a very dynamic, high-intensity event designed to have these soldiers brought to the highest level of training proficiency."

General fund revenues lag in November

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont’s main tax revenue sources lagged behind their targets in November, with higher-than-expected corporate income tax refunds the biggest concern.

Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding says November general fund revenues totaled about $80 million -- some 4 percent below expectations. Year-to-date, they were a bit more than $505 million -- just a fifth of a percentage point shy of their target and nearly 4 percent above last year.

Corporate income taxes were the biggest worry, as refunds resulted in a loss to state revenues of more than $2 million.

Consumption taxes, including the sales and use and rooms and meals levies, also fell short of their targets in November.