ASHLAND, Ore. -- The Oregon National Guard is one step closer to heading to Djibouti for a peace keeping mission. Soldiers spent weeks training at Camp Rilea in Oregon and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. They returned to the Oregon National Guard Armory in Ashland Wednesday.
"Soldiers spent two weeks — whether it was on the range doing basic soldier skills, morale competition, teamwork cohesion. All of that is good for morale especially if you're going to be working with someone for about a year in the desert. There's not much to do. You want to get to know these people. So it's a good opportunity for that and checking some boxes, turning those reds into greens as far as validation goes," said Headquarters and Headquarters Company Commander Captain Christopher Gallagher.
Djibouti is a small country off of the Horn of Africa. It's more than 8,500 miles from Ashland and very close to the Middle East. Roughly 450 soliders will on this nine month tour to the country. This will be Sergeant Jackie Hill's very first deployment.
"We will be providing medical support for the sustainment of the country," she added.
Cpt. Gallagher is prepared for the extreme heat. He already went to Djibouti for a pre-deployment site survery a few months ago.
"We go there. We link up with the unit that is there now. We'll be taking over their mission," Cpt. Gallagher said. "All of the company Commanders and First Sergeants and all those key players can kind of get to know the specifics of the missions that are happening over there, all of the roles and responsibilities that you have for each company."
The Navy already has a presence in Djibouti. The Oregon National Guard is tasked with securing that base as well as partnering with different nations in the region to increase their security efforts.
"We'll help grow them as a nation so they can support themselves against their own local terrorists." Sgt. Hill added.
Soliders expect to be in Djibouti by the end of the year. A deployment ceremony at SOU is planned on Sunday, October 13th.