New momentum in the Trump administration’s peace talks with the Taliban and plans for a major troop drawdown have not changed the mission or the return date for hundreds of Georgia National Guardsmen still serving in Afghanistan, the state’s adjutant general said Friday.
Roughly 400 troops with the Winder-based 1st Battalion of the 121st Infantry Regiment are advising and assisting Afghan security forces and are expected to come home by October. The Pentagon has not announced any changes for those troops, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden Jr., Georgia’s adjutant general.
“Nobody has even talked to us about the potential of anything changing,” he said. “This is certainly not the first time that we have seen these sorts of discussion in the past. We have learned to stay focused on the mission.”
The Washington Post reported Friday that U.S. negotiators have made significant advances in recent talks with the Taliban and that the two sides are close to announcing agreement on an initial U.S. troop withdrawal. The initial drawdown is expected to include roughly 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The 121st infantrymen are part of Georgia’s 48th Brigade Combat Team, which is winding down a months-long mission in Afghanistan. Roughly 2,000 troops from the 48th deployed to Afghanistan at the beginning of the year to train Afghan troops and police and secure Bagram Air Base north of Kabul. Most of the brigade’s troops have returned home in recent weeks.
Related: Most of Georgia’s 48th coming home from Afghanistan two months early
The longest war in American history, the fight in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of 2,433 U.S. troops, according to icasualties.org. The 48th has lost one soldier, Spc. Miguel L. Holmes, 22, of Hinesville, who died during a non-combat incident in May. The military has not yet confirmed his cause of death.
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