National Guard Soldiers Who Trained Afghans Return Home

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More than 2 dozen soldiers from the Ohio Army National Guard were welcomed home Friday after serving a year overseas including seven months in Afghanistan. The soldiers were there to provide training for the Afghan National Army.

Families and friends of about 30 Ohio Army National Guard soldiers gathered at a church in Reynoldsburg to welcome their loved ones home. The members of the 174th Air Defense Artillery Brigade are part of the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team. Major Jeff Leslie, who commanded the unit, says his soldiers safely completed more than 100 combat missions, sometimes exchanging fire with the enemy. “Anytime we go outside of our base is a combat mission because Afghanistan is not a very safe place so anytime you go somewhere it’s a combat mission, Leslie says. “So most of the missions we went on were in support of the Afghan National Army.”

Leslie says the Ohio National Guardsmen helped develop infantry and combat skills of Afghan soldiers which he says was sometimes a challenge.

“Well they just don’t do things the way we do,” Leslie says. “So we just pretty much had to start with the basic stuff: how to point and shoot a rifle, how to move in combat under fire, how to communicate the basic stuff that they need to survive on the battle field.” Before their seven months in Afghanistan, the unit spent five month training with the Hungarian Army.

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