Illinois National Guard deploys Soldiers to Afghanistan

SPRINGFIELD, IL (11/09/2017) (readMedia)-- Springfield, Illinois – The Illinois National Guard is sending a team of Soldiers to Afghanistan as part of a mission supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel. The soldiers will train and work side-by-side with their Polish counterparts.

"We live in freedom today and every day because of the courage and sacrifice of our soldiers," Governor Bruce Rauner said. "These heroes stand in the face of danger to keep us safe. We honor that and look forward to their safe return home."

The Illinois contingency, which is known as The Bilateral Embedded Staff Team (BEST) A20, will advise and assist the institutions within the Afghan Ministry of Defense and Ministry of the Interior.

The Soldiers are from various parts of Illinois and were selected for the mission based on their training and skills. Their hometowns include: Normal, Illinois; Carterville, Illinois; McLean, Illinois; Springfield, Illinois; Homewood, Illinois and Lorton, Virginia.

A deployment ceremony was held at Camp Lincoln, in Springfield, on Thursday, November 9th. The soldiers will train for a brief time at Fort Bliss, Texas, before heading to the Middle East. They are expected to return to Illinois in the summer of 2018.