If the United States truly is winding down its war effort in Afghanistan, as President Barack Obama has indicated, you can't prove it by the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Already one of the most deployed in America, the Pennsylvania National Guard is being called on once again.
The 56th Stryker Brigade, which trains at Fort Indiantown Gap, has been put on notice that it will deploy to Afghanistan in 2014, just when the United States is scheduled to be ending the war and turning over security to Afghan forces.
The 56th, the only Stryker unit in a national guard, may be the last American men and women standing when the Afghan war ends. Colonel Sam Hayes will lead them there.
“There's an element of excitement whenever you're going to deploy,” Hayes said Thursday. “The pucker factor goes up, but I think the morale across the brigade is good.”
That doesn't make it easy on the loved ones; the family and the friends who say goodbye to their soldiers. Pennsylvania has seen a lot of that lately.
“We're all volunteers,” Hayes said. “If you don't want to continue your service, you can get out.”