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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.