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Press Release
November 01, 2005
Oregon National Guard brigade to deploy to Afghanistan
Nine hundred Oregonians received a big heads up Tuesday that they will more than likely be heading to Afghanistan this summer.
The Oregon National Guard's 41st Brigade Combat Team received an alert order from the U.S. Army that the unit will deploy to south Asia to train the Afghanistan National Army.
"The ANA mission is one of three key areas of engagement for the U.S. military in Afghanistan," explained Col. Cameron Crawford, 41st BCT deputy brigade commander. "The other areas include the combat missions through which we continue to fight Taliban remnants and al Qaeda, and the reconstruction efforts to help restore and establish a national infrastructure."
Col David Enyeart, who just returned from a year in Afghanistan in August and will be the brigade's deputy commander during deployment said the Afghani army has a ways to go before it is ready to provide support and stability in the war-torn country.
"They know how to kill people," Enyeart said. "They've been doing that for 25 years of conflict, but they have to learn to do that together, and the leaders have to learn how to lead."
Enyeart said the ANA currently has 30,000 members, but wanting to have an additional 10,000.
"Our mission there is very important, so they can have security and stability for their people, and so they can take care of the terrorist activity themselves," Enyeart said. "Once the (Afghanistan National) Army's built up and they can sustain themselves, we can leave."
The year-long ANA mission is one of many the United States has tasked the Oregon Guard with recently.
"(The) National Guard has been on the frontlines at home and abroad," Crawford said.
Over 500 Oregon soldiers have returned or will return soon from a year of service in Iraq. An additional 180 are still in Iraq, 40 in Kuwait, and another 150 are already in Afghanistan. The Oregon National Guard also recently deployed approximately 2,000 soldiers to support the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
"We've served with great pride in what we do," Crawford said. "We're going to continue to stay proud as we prepare for what's coming down the road."
The brigade is expected to deploy for two-to-three months of training this spring at a to-be-determined site in the U.S., before deploying to Afghanistan in July.
Crawford said getting the alert order months in advance gives the unit time to train for the mission.
"With this much lead time, we'll be able to tailor our training and hopefully shorten the train-up periods we've seen on prior deployments," he said. "This has several advantages: families get more time with loved ones, employers have more time to prepare and help the soldier prepare for deployment, and we focus only on the training that's going to help us do our job."
The soldiers who deploy are only one part of the story, another is all the friends, family and places of employment they leave behind.
"This is not just about the unit. It's about families," Enyeart said. "We can't do it without family support. They are going to have a tougher time then we are because they are going to have to do things they haven't had to do before. The key thing is support from the community."
The ANA mission will mark the largest overseas deployment by the Oregon National Guard since World War II.
Soldiers who deploy will receive extra pay for hazardous duty and for being separated from the families. All their earnings will be tax free.
Kay Fristad
Capt Mike Braibish
Cell 503-932-5805