SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - With their year-long deployment in Afghanistan nearing an end, the message has changed for the 48th Brigade of the Georgia Army National Guard.
"We'll see you in the St. Patrick's Day Parade,'' Sgt. Joshua Winchester, of the 48th, said in a satellite interview from Afghanistan.
But their mission of training Afghan police departments and security forces remains the same.
"We've got to keep everyone on a battle focus, we can't let anybody slip,'' said Cpt. Patrick Grover. "You still have to treat it seriously because there's still bad guys out there and you don't know where they are and when they're going to try to hit somebody.''
The 48th's mentoring has helped Afghan police control violence and assure peaceful elections.
But their impact is just as noticeable in small communities across the country.
"You see the effects out there when you go talk to the local tribesmen and local villagers,'' said Winchester. "You see them smile and see them work with the local law enforcement and local army. It's really good to see what the 48th has done.''
"The police around here are not used to going out into the cities and talking to the locals,'' added Grover. "So we've helped push them along in that direction.''
And even as that work continues, they can't help thinking about the direction they'll soon be headed. And what they're looking forward to when they get home.
"Wrestling with my son,'' said Grover, "and taking my daughter on a daddy date night.''
"I kind of look forward to just sitting out in the yard and enjoying the neighborhood camaraderie and spending time with my kids and my wife,'' added Winchester. "It's great to have the finish line in site.''
The work they'll continue doing right up to that line earns the 48th Brigade a WTOC Military Salute.