MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama soldiers said goodbye to their loved ones Wednesday as they head overseas to work as advisers for Afghan security forces.
The Alabama Army National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters Forward Logistics Team Four, out of Montgomery, has been called to active duty.
A departure ceremony was held for the 19-man team at the Alabama National Guard headquarters building on Congressman Dickinson Drive Wednesday morning.
Members of the specialized team shared heartfelt goodbyes with their families as they prepared to leave for their mission.
"It's truly an honor and a privilege to serve this country. This is my third deployment. It is sad leaving family and loved ones behind but it's just part of the duty that I have,' said CW4 Al Mattox.
The logistics team will travel to various locations across Afghanistan to teach, assist and advise the Afghan National Security Forces.
"They will perform the highly important mission of logistics advisers in Afghanistan, supporting the seamless transition of sustainment of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and expanding transparency and accountability across the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," said Major Randall Baker, Master of Ceremonies.
"In order to reduce the dependence on coalition efforts to ensure today's gains are lasting and ensure that Afghan troops are properly equipped to meet tomorrow's challenges," he added.
They'll provide oversight and monitor equipment to make sure the Afghan army and police have what they need- from boots and uniforms to weapons and fuel.
"It is our task to look at life cycle management and different items. Is there a part that's wearing out? Uniforms are going to be wear out and certain parts are going to wear out faster than others. It's our job to look at the management of that and to make that purchase and go through the proper channels to do that," explained LTC James Weakley, Team Commander.
The logistics team started training for their mission six months ago. They will be deployed for nine months and will also work with the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior levels of the Afghan government.
"This is what keeps the Afghan army and police going. Without logistics and the support of the U.S., their army would definitely fail. They're not ready to stand up completely on their own two feet. They're pretty close. We're there to continue the process until our leadership says they're on their own," LTC Weakley said.
The team is a close knit group of soldiers from across Alabama. Civilian officials, as well as senior Alabama National Guardsmen, attended the ceremony to show their support for the members of Forward Logistics Team Four and their families.
"There's a couple guys on this team who are experiencing their first deployment to Afghanistan and others who this is their fourth deployment. This team has a lot of experience and it's one of the best teams that I've been around," Weakley stated.