MONTICELLO, Minn. (WCCO) — For 124 Minnesota soldiers, the war in Afghanistan isn’t over — it’s just beginning.

Three weeks after President Barack Obama said all troops would be out by 2014, friends and family said goodbye to members of the 257th Military Police Company as they left Wednesday, just days before Memorial Day.

“I don’t have any insight on [the war] ending, because mine’s just starting,” said Spc. Zach Haugen.

Soldiers and their spouses find Obama’s anticipated ending date hard to believe.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” said Andrea Stai, a soldier’s wife. “I think they’ll have to stay there until it’s safe and then hopefully they can move out and go to the next stage for everyone.”

The 257th will be responsible for teaching and coaching members of the Afghan National Army.

It was the first departure ceremony and deployment for a majority of the soldiers, including Haugen.

Haugen has 1-month-old son and a 2-year-old daughter. He says that missing his kids early years will be the most challenging thing for him and his wife.

“She’s holding up strong for now,” Haugen said. “Next week, it’ll be a whole different story.”

The soldiers will leave for training in Fort Bliss, Texas, on Monday before going to Afghanistan in the spring. They’re expected to return in the summer of 2013.


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