AZ Army National Guard soldiers deploying to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - An Arizona Army National Guard unit will begin the New Year in Cuba. They're deploying to Guantanamo Bay for approximately nine months.
"There was some discussion some time back about actually shutting it down. Right now that's not what's going to happen so it's still very important for us service members to be prepared to go and continue that mission," said Arizona Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major Fidel Zamora.
That's exactly what nearly 50 Arizona Army National Guard soldiers will soon be doing. These soldiers leaving for Guantanamo Bay in the coming days in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Once there, they'll be on a joint task force helping to augment staff.
"Part of that is being able to inform and advise the Joint Task Force Commander there on military police tasks and procedures and part of that is just making sure that the staff runs effectively on a day to day basis," said Colonel Rich Baldwin, the Land Component Commander of the Arizona Army National Guard.
Family and friends of these soldiers saw them off today.
"These are our citizen soldiers. These are soldiers that work in your communities. They go to your faith based organizations. They work in our super markets, in our police stations, in our fire stations," Command Sergeant Major Zamora said.
This mission is so sensitive we were asked not to show the faces of these soldiers and their families.
"We don't want to telegraph to the world who is going, who's there and who's performing this mission because they all have families that are still back here while they're overseas doing this mission," Colonel Baldwin said.
These soldiers won't have contact with the detainees and they are expected to be deployed for about nine months.