As President Obama’s timetable for the U.S.’ withdrawal from Afghanistan rolls out, an Ohio National Guard unit is preparing to ship out and help wrap up the war effort there. Ideastream’s Joanna Richards reports.
Most people don’t think of it, but along with personnel, the U.S. also has a lot of stuff in Afghanistan – the physical debris of more than a decade of war.
"We’ll go and we’ll, you know, tear down all the barriers, put all the equipment on our flatbeds. We’ll pretty much haul everything back to Bagram," said Captain Evan Washburn, commander of the Ohio National Guard’s 1191st Engineer Company in Portsmouth. Most of his 200 personnel – in their civilian lives, construction workers, nurses, students – will soon become full-time soldiers for a 9-month deployment.
They’re heading in the opposite direction as most U.S. troops these days because the company’s specialty is heavy equipment and construction. And their job in Afghanistan is to downsize and demolish military bases the U.S. no longer needs.
"I’m anticipating it being a relatively dangerous mission," Washburn said. That’s because Washburn’s troops will be sent to smaller cities and remote outposts, as the U.S. is reducing its presence. Washburn said the company will likely get security help from military police and other units, but he’s preparing his soldiers, too, to deal with threats.
After a formal send-off ceremony, the 1191st Engineer Company leaves Friday for two months of training in Texas, then heads to Afghanistan in mid-July.