Calif. soldiers return from Afghanistan

February 28, 2009 8:24:34 PM PST
After a year in Afghanistan, the California National Guardsmen of B Company, a general support aviation battalion, are ready to return to the lives they left behind.

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"Just glad he could make it back," father of a Guardsman, Deon Hensley said.

Hensley cannot stop smiling at his 22-year-old son but he is also concerned about what is to come now that President Obama wants to send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan and re-focus military efforts there.

"I personally felt like they should have had more troops in Afghanistan all along and less in Iraq," Hensley said. "I think that's where they're going to have more problems."

Right now, there are 38,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the death toll is up three-fold compared to this time last year.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was in Afghanistan last weekend, questions whether just raising troop levels there is the answer, especially since the president is promising to pull all combat troops out of Iraq by the year 2010.

"It was clear a military solution alone is not going to solve the problem, it hasn't, we've been there seven and a half years," Pelosi said.

Those who have been on the ground in Afghanistan think the military's presence is necessary and more support is still needed.

But the thought of sending more fellow soldiers there is a hard pill to swallow for some.

"I just wish everything would just end, the way the world is, it's a mean cold place, we need to keep it here, a lot of people need help here too," Guardsman Mark Lindwall said.

"We can't just pull out because it's not fair to the citizens we helped protect there; we trained the Afghani police, we trained the national army guys, so it's definitely a benefit that we're there, even though none of us really want to be there," Guardsman Brooks King said.

The violence is expected to rise in Afghanistan as the country prepares to hold its general elections.

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