BOISE, Idaho – Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden visited hundreds of Oregon National Guard troops Tuesday as they trained for a deployment to Afghanistan this summer.
Wyden said the soldiers are going on one of the most important missions, even though it may get the least amount of coverage from the media. That’s because President Barack Obama just announced the American presence in Afghanistan will be winding down. The job, however, is far from over.
“Part of what I need to do is make sure people at home understand how important this mission is, because it strikes me that you're going to have more jobs, they are gonna be more difficult, and there will be fewer of you to do them,” he told the troops during one of several town halls.
Many of these National Guard members have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan at least once before.
Wyden was joined by Maj. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Adjutant General, Oregon as they watched pre-mobilization training at the Orchard Combat Training Center, an Idaho National Guard training facility located south of Boise, Idaho.
On the flight back to Portland the senator noted that this trip was different than others.
"These soldiers, many have had multiple tours, are so devoted to our county, especially now when people think the lights are being turned off in Afghanistan. I just want Oregonians to know how important this work is,” he said.
After training in Idaho, the troops will head off to Texas and then most of them will be in Kabul by the end of the summer.
The soldiers are from the Oregon National Guard’s 41st Infantry Brigade. Three battalions, totaling about 865 troops, will be mobilized.
The troops will be providing security in Kabul and southwestern parts of Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Their deployment is scheduled to last about nine months.