SALEM -- Oregon National Guard soldiers now training in Idaho are set to go to Afghanistan beginning later this summer.
President Barack Obama announced plans Tuesday for greatly reducing U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the end of the year and then ending the U.S. military commitment there by the end of 2016. But even as Obama set a timetable for the drawdown, he said he would keep nearly 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan after the U.S. combat mission formally ends later this year.
That will include the 1,100 Oregon Guard soldiers from the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
“In Iraq, they had a very similar mission as to closing it down and keeping security. So they will revisit some of the same skill set that they had in the past,” Major Stephen Bomar said.
"Senior officials are familiar with the performance of the 41st Brigade," Major Don Troxell added. "And they know that we know how to get things done."
The Oregon soldiers will provide security for convoys, military bases and dignitaries. It's a heavy prospect, but one Major Troxell said the soldiers are ready to bear.
"The general feeling is they're happy. They're happy they're still going," he said. "A lot of these soldiers have been training to perform this mission for quite some time."
Most deployments last about nine months in Afghanistan, so if the president's plan holds, the Oregon soldiers will likely remain there until the summer of 2015.
That could also mean that the Oregon soldiers will be some of the last to leave Afghanistan, to end what has been a very long commitment.
Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley said he's calling for a congressional vote on the President's plan.
“The American people deserve a voice in issues of war and peace. Automatic renewal is fine for Netflix and gym memberships, but it is not the right approach when it comes to war,” Merkley said, in a prepared statement sent to the media Tuesday.