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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs