More Guardsmen Deploy to Middle East - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports


More Guardsmen Deploy to Middle East

Airmen from the 165th Georgia Air National Guard have been on a continuous mission for Operation Iraqi Freedom for over a year. But even now that Iraq's been turned back over to the Iraqi people, their mission isn't getting any easier. Sixty more members left for the Middle East early this morning.

Now military officials say the Iraqi handover could possibly mean fewer deployments in the future.

For these airmen, deployments have been a continuous journey with no end in sight. "We've been doing this about every two months," said the 165th's Col. Steve Westgate. "We send a new group over and they've all been there, some of them are on their fifth trip."

For families, the worries have been nonstop and the trips to the tarmac have become more routine then ever. But now, even with the handover, these airmen will still have to go back where the hostility toward Americans is at an all-time high.

"The last several months, it's been very tenuous over there and more dangerous for us and everyone," said Col. Westgate. "And let's hope that the change and bringing in Iraqi troops will help."

The new government in Iraq may mean fewer US troops will be needed. "Big picture wise, we hope that things will stabilize more, which will cause possibly a reduction of troops, which will be less C-130s," said Col. Westgate.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen,

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