More than 900 U.S. troops are deploying overseas, including more than 600 Idaho National Guard members and 300 Indiana National Guard members. The American troops are being sent to Southwest Asia and Iraq to support U.S. missions in each region.
More than 600 soldiers with the Idaho National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team are being sent to Asia to support Operation Spartan Shield, a mission that is part of Operation Enduring Freedom, which started after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Idaho troops underwent two years of training to prepare for the deployment, KTVB7 reported.
During a sendoff with family and friends at Gowen Field, Staff Sgt. Tonya Olmos said she will miss her family, but she’s happy to join the mobilization.
“It’s definitely heartbreaking at times, but I chose to join the Guard and this is what I wanted to join for,” Olmos said. “They’re happy for me, and I’m happy for myself. At the same time, there’s other days where you’re just so sad to miss a full year with your family.”
Sgt. First Class Jacobe Wood said that while he has been deployed before, this time is different because he has a family.
“[I’m] a little nervous. This is the first time I’ve done this with a family,” Wood said. “They don’t grasp the gravity of what’s actually going to happen…try to explain to somebody that’s still in elementary school that you’re going to be gone for, you know, 12 to 13 months in a potentially hazardous area and not be able to come home is kind of the– it’s a hard thing for them to understand.”
Elsewhere, 300 Indiana National Guard soldiers are preparing to deploy to Iraq in support of coalition security forces. The group is expected to return to Indiana in July next year following a nine-month deployment, the Courier & Press reported.
“The Indiana Guard has deployments all the time,” Lt. Col. Aaron Lange said. “They’re usually small. We’re talking a handful, dozen soldiers here, a dozen soldiers there and those are happening every year. But it’s not to this scale.”
The outlet reported that 85 countries are part of the global coalition, and it is unclear which nation the Indiana National Guard troops will be supporting.
Soldier Family Readiness group is working to provide support for families whose troops are deploying overseas, according to chairperson Nicole Taylor.
“Our job is to just support the soldier while they are gone as well as we can and make sure they have all the resources that they need as far as making sure everything at home is taken care of,” Taylor said.
The deployments come just weeks before the one-year anniversary of the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, which led to the deaths of 13 U.S. troops.