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

    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.


    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora