Gulfport soldiers react to troop drawdown in Afghanistan

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The 1108th TASMG in Gulfport repairs helicopters for the Army. On Wednesday, several members said they weren't surprised at all learning that President Barack Obama wants to withdraw 10,000 U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The target is recalling another 20,000 surge troops by the end of 2012.

"I think it's a step in the right direction to stabilize the country over there and to stabilize our economy here," said Douglas Krol with the 1108th TASMG.

Some members of the Army National Guard unit said the troop pullout will boost the morale of military families and those who are weary of a war that's been going on for nearly a decade.

"All the families back here that's got soldiers deployed over there, they're going to look forward. It's happy news for them," said Penny Cryer, a member of the 1108 TASMG.

And Kalvin Daniels said, "I think that our families will really enjoy that news. I think that will put a lot of our families at ease, knowing that people are going to be coming home."

While the unit has been deploying to the Middle East since 2003, about 40 members, including Rocky Tillman, have served in Afghanistan.

"We almost never got hit. No problems at all. But now they're getting more active and bases getting hit more often. So security being the issue, I don't know if it's the perfect timing," said Rocky Tillman, a member of 1108th TASMG.

"I wouldn't want to just up and leave when they're still struggling over there, but he makes the decisions," said Cryer. "But I know everybody's going to look forward to it, because everybody here's ready, ready for the soldiers to come home."

The soldiers said even with the troop draw down in Afghanistan, they are ready to carry out their Aviation Maintenance mission wherever they are needed.

"Most of us signed up to do this. So we do what we're asked to do and we enjoy it," said Tillman.

The 1108th is scheduled to deploy to the Middle East at the end of this year.  Unit leaders say they don't expect the troop reduction in Afghanistan to affect their mission.

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