400 Illinois National Guard troops heading to Afghanistan

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Members of the Illinois National Guard, Company C, 2nd Battalion of the 130th Infantry, prepare for deployment in Litchfield, Ill., Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008. By January, the largest deployment of Illinois National Guard troops since World War II will be in Afghanistan training and supporting a relatively new army and a police force. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois National Guard is set to deploy about 400 soldiers to Afghanistan in what officials say is the largest mobilization of Guardsmen and women from the state in nearly a decade.

The Chicago Tribune reports that members of the 178th Infantry Regiment that’s headquartered on Chicago’s South Side and has companies from as far away as the Peoria area will start leaving this weekend to start a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan in support of “Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.”

The soldiers will first go to Fort Bliss in Texas before heading to Afghanistan about the time of the country’s planned presidential election on Sept. 28.

The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan has dropped in the past decade but there are still some 14,000 U.S. servicemen and women there.

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