Oklahoma troops could be headed for Afghanistan

Monday, August 4th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAND SPRINGS, Okla. (AP) _ Members of Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Brigade could be assigned to Afghanistan to head up Afghan national army training.

The U.S. Army will make the final decision, but the state adjutant general said he thinks it ``is a pretty certain thing.''

``It looks like it is very close to happening,'' said Maj. Gen. Harry ``Bud'' Wyatt. ``The army can always change its mind, but right now it looks like the 45th is leaning forward and will probably be the brigade that is selected to go.''

If called, the 45th will be training the Afghan national army in preparation for elections next year, said Brig. Gen. Tom Mancino, commander of the brigade.

If the brigade is called, the Army will determine the size of the force needed. Not all of the 3,000 soldiers in the brigade will be deployed.

Many are currently deployed on security force missions at military installations in the United States and two units of the brigade returned last week from overseas tours.

Two companies of the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry of Stillwater returned after missions in Southwest Asia, including Kuwait and Iraq.

The 1st Battalion, 180th Infantry of Durant returned last week from a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai.

The United States is spearheading an effort to assemble a national army and police force in a country where regional warlords are out to increase their power and the Taliban is trying to come back.