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Archive for Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Guard troops slated for duty in Africa

December 23, 2009

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— More than 560 Kansas Army National Guard soldiers have been assigned to security duty next year in the Horn of Africa, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The soldiers, who account for more than 10 percent of the state’s National Guard troops, are scheduled to deploy after April, said spokeswoman Sharon Watson. Following training, they’ll spending about nine months in the small nation of Djibouti, returning in April 2011.

Watson described the Kansas unit’s deployment as “a peacekeeping mission” and said “a small contingent” of Kansas soldiers had been there in the past.

Djibouti is located near Somalia and Ethiopia, across the Gulf of Aden from the nation of Yemen. The soldiers going there are members of a combined infantry and armored battalion based in Kansas City, Kan.

“This is a very large deployment,” she said. “We have done a deployment of this size before to Iraq, but not to Africa.”

The U.S., European Union members and other nations are fighting piracy off the eastern coast of Africa. The U.S. and its allies also have concerns that al-Qaida is turning Somalia into a staging area for operations in the region.

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