Heather Black

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Video: Local National Guard Soldiers React to 11 Years in Afghanistan

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WEST POINT, Miss. (WCBI)-Sunday was the 11 year anniversary of the U.S. invading Afghanistan after the terrorist attack on nine-eleven. NATO will hand over the lead role in combat operations to Afghan forces across the country by mid-2013. WCBI’s Heather Black talks with some local soldiers who just returned home from Afghanistan and how they believe the change will impact Afghanistan’s future.

Just a week after hundreds of National Guardsmen from the 223rd battalion returned home from a year of duty in Afghanistan, some concerns are brewing over the country’s future once all troops are pulled out. For Staff Sargent Romerio Johnson, he believes the transition will be bumpy, but successful.

“They will be ready, but as contemplating with them it’s going to be rough. They’re dealing with the way we have been with the troops and it’s going to be real hard for them to adjust once the troops are out of there,” S/SGT Johnson.

The 223rd believe they have given Afghanistan the tools to succeed once troops are withdrawn in 2014.

Since the invasion 11 years ago, The U.S. Troops have been trying to prepare Afghans for long-term success.

“They try to make them see how to come together and to see we’re not over there just totally against them we are trying to make a land of freedom for everybody,” says S/SGT Johnson.

“We provided stability, gave them time to get their government and military and police force ready to take over and run their own country,” says SGT 1st Class Howell.

While the relationships between Afghans and the U.S. Troops hasn’t been perfect, most have appreciated all the support from the U.S.

“The 223rd engineer really stepped outside their boundaries and you have a lot of Afghanistan that really appreciate it and then you have some that really are not going to be with you regardless which way you go, but as a whole I think we made a big to the land of Afghanistan,” says S/SGT Johnson.

“The majority of them, yes have appreciated what we have done for them, but you’ve got that group, those hard core individuals just don’t want us there and that’s all there is to it,” says SGT 1st Class Howell.

11 soldiers form the 223rd battalion lost their lives while in Afghanistan and 70 were awarded the Purple Heart.