Kansas Guard leader says conflict to last ‘long time’

? The Kansas National Guard will have about 800 soldiers in Iraq for the foreseeable future and equipment worn out in the war still isn’t being replaced quickly enough, the Guard’s commanding general says.

“More than anything, people need to understand that the current level of activity will be sustained for a long time,” said Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, state adjutant general. “Iraq is not the last conflict. There may be other spots.

“We have 800 going to Iraq. We’ll have 800 going next year and will have 800 go forever. But we believe what we’re doing is making a difference.”

About 1,000 Kansas National Guard soldiers and airmen are deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and the U.S.-Mexico border supporting federal efforts to stop illegal immigrants, weapons and drugs.

Last week, Bunting announced that a unit of the 35th Infantry Division based at Fort Leavenworth would deploy in the coming months for another round of peacekeeping in Kosovo.

That division was in Kosovo four years ago and spent some time in New Orleans in 2005 helping coordinate National Guard relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

“People think Kosovo is resolved, but it’s not, and it’s still a year away from home for people,” Bunting said.

Another unit, the 35th Military Police, is heading to Iraq later this year, while two other units could be deployed late this year or in 2008.

Bunting said for many soldiers from Kansas who will be going to Iraq, it will be their second tour, and for some it will be their fourth.