As thousands of Michigan troops are preparing to return from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, a small group of Michigan National Guard soldiers departs tonight for a year-long tour of duty in Liberia in northwest Africa.
The 25 soldiers will help train the fledgling Liberian military, says Captain Corissa Barton of the Michigan National Guard.
"They're just coming out of a civil war," she says of the African nation. "The whole country has been war-torn for years. They are extremely low as far as poverty goes, and it's important that they build a democracy and build a military force to defend themselves."
Barton says the training will cover everything from basic soldiering skills to engineering and military police work.
The Michigan Guard was assigned Liberia as a partner by the U.S. military as part of a project to establish closer ties with emerging national governments.
Guard soldiers being deployed come from units all across Michigan.