The last combat troops may be pulling out of Iraq, but more soldiers are heading to the other war in Afghanistan.
The clock is ticking to stabilize Afghanistan so U.S. troops can meet the president's goal of withdrawing next July.
The success of that mission belongs to units like the one U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Randy Shorter is part of. They are combat infantry, part of the final surge deploying to the region.
As part of my ongoing series “A Soldiers Story,” we'll be following Shorter and his unit as they head into arguably one of the most dangerous parts of the country: Paktika province in southeast Afghanistan, heavy with insurgent attacks.
The troops’ mission: rebuild infrastructure, help teach the Afghan people how to police themselves and fight insurgents.
Shorter and his unit were last deployed there in 2008. That's when Shorter's skills were put to the test when a vehicle in his caravan hit a roadside bomb and insurgents opened fire. Shorter rescued the wounded, while returning fire. He received the Silver Star for bravery during that mission.
Now Shorter and his unit are headed back to pick up where they left off.
This is the third combat tour of duty for Shorter, a 14-year veteran of the Army. He'll be away from his wife Sheryll and daughters Melanie and Ariana for one year. Like many, he’ll miss his family while he’s gone.
A Filipino-American, Shorter came to the United States with his family when he was 5, one of three kids who grew up in Long Beach, California. He married his high school sweetheart soon after graduation, around the same time he joined the Army.
His dedication to family and country insipired him to join the Army, he says.
Over the next several weeks, we’ll follow Shorter from the U.S. to Afghanistan and explore what it’s like for soldiers like him: men and women who have deployed multiple times to combat zones. We’ll also chronicle his family's life back at Ft. Campbell in Kentucky as they deal with the reality of daily life without the man they love.
Catch “A Soldier’s Story” series on “American Morning” this September.
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