News

National Guard Soldiers Prepared for Future Afghanistan Deployments

Answering President Barack Obama's call for 30,000 additional troops to serve in Afghanistan, National Guard soldiers across the United States are preparing for future deployments.

A National Guard soldier in Robbins, Illinois repairs a military Humvee
A National Guard soldier in Robbins, Illinois repairs a military Humvee

Multimedia

Kane Farabaugh

Answering President Barack Obama's call for 30,000 additional troops to serve in Afghanistan, National Guard soldiers across the United States are preparing for future deployments.  In the Midwestern state of Illinois, National Guard soldiers just completed a deployment to Afghanistan.

The cost of the war in Afghanistan is visible in Sergeant First Class Christine Kelly's office at the Illinois National Guard Armory in suburban Chicago.

Her friend and fellow soldier, Sergeant Simone Robinson, was severely injured by a suicide bomber in January, during their recent deployment to Afghanistan.

"She was refueling her vehicle, and the person that came by that detonated it, detonated it with the fuel truck, and it blew up, and she just happened to be there at that particular time, and she sustained injuries from that," Sergeant Kelly said.

Robinson died from her injuries on March 1, one of 18 casualties the Illinois National Guard suffered during an Afghanistan deployment that ended in October.  Robinson's friends and family, including her two-year-old daughter, continue to struggle with the loss.

"She went to school full-time also.  She was a full-time mom.  She was a good soldier," added Kelly.

With a new strategy in the war in Afghanistan, more National Guard troops across the United States will answer President Obama's call for additional forces to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Part of that mission includes training the Afghan army, something Master Sergeant Eric Drakes knows well.  His job during the recent Afghanistan deployment was training Afghan army officers in vehicle maintenance and security.

"The soldiers that I was with, the Afghanis, they respected us and they liked working with us, and they very much liked our help as far the officers everything that we've presented to them as far as helping them and showing them things… they took it in very well," he said.

Chief Warrant Officer Hau Ling says one of the hardest parts about being a soldier in the National Guard - a responsibility that is usually a part-time commitment - is not the work, but being away from family.

"I think the hardest part is separation," he noted.  "Everything is unknown, especially the first deployment.  That would be the hardest part, because we don't know what the future is going to be."

Ling is a 30-year veteran and now full-time member of the Illinois National Guard.  Originally from Hong Kong, he joined the Guard after coming to the United States shortly after the Vietnam War.  The recent tour in Afghanistan was his first deployment, and he thinks probably not his last.

"I strongly believe that we will deploy again because that's the Army's plan, and there is no secret about that," he said.

According to President Obama's new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, U.S. troops will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2011.  Though that timetable could spare soldiers like Kelly from serving another deployment away from family and friends, she says she is ready to do what her country and commander-in-chief asks of her.

"You wear this uniform, so you do what you have to do," she said.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs