1,600 Alabama Army National troops deploying this year

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Army National Guard expects to deploy 1,600 troops this year, a number that includes the largest amount of soldiers the state guard has ever sent to Afghanistan.

Nearly 300 Guard soldiers are now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This year's deployments reflect the Obama Administration's push to counter the Taliban's growing strength.

Major General A.C. Blalock, the Guard's adjutant general, said they will ensure soldiers and airmen are prepared as deployment numbers increase in 2009.

As of Dec. 31, 13,544 Guard members and Reservists who list Alabama as their legal address have deployed in and around Iraq or Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001. The numbers do not reflect those who have had more than one deployment.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)