BEND, Ore. - U.S. troops have now been fighting in Afghanistan for 11 years. According to the latest polls, 60 percent of Americans want to bring troops home as soon as possible and now an Oregon National Guard unit is preparing for deployment.
About 1,800 troops are preparing to deploy, many of whom live in Central Oregon. The war has cost more than $420 billion and killed more than 2,000 U.S. troops, but for many who have served overseas, it's a battle they believe is worth the cost.
"It's been expensive and it's cost the tax payers and our government a lot of money, but freedom is expensive," Afghanistan war veteran Brandon Anderchuk said Friday.
Anderchuck was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. He said he believes it wasn't all fighting, but lots of rebuilding for a country in need and protection for his family at home.
"Obviously war is very expensive, but I think it's for a good cause," Anderchuk said. "But I mean, what does our freedom cost? It's an expensive war, but we haven't had a 9/11 since, so is all that cost worth it? I think so."
The National Guard started notifying members of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat team to be ready to go.
Maj. Don Troxell, public affairs officer, said because of several deployments and experience over the last 10 years, the troops are ready.
"The Oregon Guard is the best-equipped, and has the best-trained soldiers that we've had in the history of the Guard," said Troxell. "We have a more ready force now than we ever have."
With President Obama's plans to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014, Oregon soldiers could be the last ones on the ground. But the plans could be changed or deployment canceled.
"A lot of things could change. This is only the first step in a multi-step process that may lead to up to deployment approximately 22 months from now," Troxell said.
If Oregon troops do go to Afghanistan, they could pay the ultimate sacrifice as the war comes to an end.
"It's scary, and you're carrying a weapon everywhere you go, bombs go off, and you just don't know what's going to happen," Anderchuk said. "So that question is always in the back of your mind: 'Am I going to come home alive?'"
The war's anniversary also is sparking action among those want to bring the troops home immediately. A march and rally is scheduled in Portland on Saturday.