Oregon Soldiers Prepare for Afghanistan

TROOPSASHLAND, Ore. – Oregon National Guard troops are preparing for another tour of duty in Afghanistan, and could be some of the last troops in that country.

President Obama announced Tuesday that only 9,800 troops would remain in Afghanistan after 2014. That number would continue to be reduced in 2015, and by the end of 2016 the only U.S. military presence in Afghanistan will be limited to embassy security.

Meanwhile, soldiers with the 186th Infantry in southern Oregon are training for another mission in Afghanistan. Those soldiers were first told to begin preparing in 2012, and are set to deploy to the Middle East later this year. Commanders said as more American troops are drawn down in Afghanistan, the mission of the southern Oregon soldiers may change over time.

“One of the things I’m encouraging our soldiers to be ready for is a lot of flexibility,” said Lt. Col. Noel Hoback, based in Ashland. “Because I anticipate there will be a lot of mission change as we prepare for the deployment and then mobilize.”

Many of the soldiers from the 186th have previously served tours in Afghanistan, and many were welcomed home to Medford during a city-wide ceremony in 2010.