'We shift gears when we find out our potential mission'

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- In five months, 400 Army National Guard troops based out of Springfield will be deploying to the Middle East.

As the soldiers from the 2-162 Infantry come closer to deployment, they're going through their final preparations for deployment to Afghanistan.

Battalion Commander Scot Caughran said the soldiers are taught in classrooms and tested in field trainings.

"We're always training, but we shift gears when we find out our potential mission... to conduct the right training to be prepared," said Lt.FC Caughran. "I look at these guys, and I have zero hesitation about taking this group into a combat zone. Between now and when they actually go, they're just going to get better."

The troop is a mix of seasoned soldiers that have multiple deployments and some who have just completed their basic and advanced trainings.

Caughran said whether they would see any further deployments depends on several factors, one being whether Afgan president Hamid Karzai signs an agreement to keep troops in the country through the end of 2014.

"There was a noticeable decline when the US presence in Iraq was reduced, but as far as Afghanistan goes, seems to be still pretty steady," said Lt. FC Caughran.

The 400 men and women will first head to Idaho for combat training, then Fort Hood, Texas before leaving for Afghanistan.