SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - Soldiers from central Illinois will soon be deployed to Afghanistan with their Polish counterparts.
A total of six soldiers were recognized Friday at the Illinois Military Camp, located in Camp Lincoln in Springfield. They are part of the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team (BEST) A24.
The people selected to be part of the mission were chosen for their training and skills, the Illinois Department of Military Affairs said in a press release. They will work with allied and coalition forces to "train, advise and assist" institutions within the Afghan Ministry of Defense and Ministry of the Interior, it said.
Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, the adjutant general with the Illinois National Guard, told the six soldiers they will be involved in something bigger than themselves.
“This is a special mission, very few states deploy with their partner countries. Your mission is special within the National Guard,” Neely said. “Thank you for leaving the civilian life to serve. You are representing us both at home and abroad.”
According to Maj. Gen. Michael Zerbonia, assistant adjutant general with the Illinois Army National Guard, the soldiers are headed toward a "tough mission".
"You have two bosses for the next seven months," he said. "You have the important role of working with a key ally and helping them in the fight."
The Illinois National Guard has partnered with Poland for 26 years. The program was established in 1993, and Illinois Army National Guard troops have co-deployed with Polish troopers on each of their rotations since 2003.