Keep Oregon National Guard from going to Afghanistan, antiwar groups tell governor
By MIKE FRANCIS | The Oregonian, (Portland, Ore.) | Published: April 11, 2014
A coalition of antiwar activists has sent a letter to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, asking him to prevent about 950 soldiers of the Oregon National Guard from deploying to Afghanistan as scheduled this year.
We request "that you, as Commander in Chief of the Guard, keep our men and women home to aid in search and rescue, firefighting, and other important functions that are not possibly in violation of international law," the letter reads.
The letter is signed by 20 people representing 18 groups, including Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Military Families Speak Out, Rural Organizing Project, Peace and Justice Works, Veterans for Peace, War Resisters League, Corvallis Raging Grannies and others.
Signers sent a similar letter to Kitzhaber last year, when it became known that the Army intended to send part or all of an Oregon Guard brigade to Afghanistan this year. The soldiers, who are scheduled to depart over the next few months, could be among the final U.S. troops in the country as the United States winds down its role there.
The governor is the commander in chief of Oregon's Army and Air National Guard, but when National Guard troops are placed on federal orders, as when they deploy overseas, they are removed from state control and placed under full-time military commanders.
Lt. Col. Kevin Dial, commander, 1249th Engineer Battalion, Oregon Army National Guard, and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Polley uncase the battalion colors during the unit's demobilization ceremony Jan. 7, at the at the Oregon State Fairgrounds Pavilion in Salem, Ore. The soldiers recently returned home from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.