NEWBERRY COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - This year, Major General Van McCarty, South Carolina’s Adjutant General, expects the South Carolina National Guard will deploy about 2,000 soldiers and airmen this year.
A deployment ceremony was held for about 100 soldiers from a National Guard unit in South Carolina Friday. They are headed to the Middle East to support Operation Spartan Shield.
“The families and all the friends who were a part of this event today are proud of their loved ones who stood in that formation,” Maj. Gen. McCarty said.
Friends and families packed the Newberry College gym Friday afternoon for the send-off ceremony for the soldiers with Bravo Company, 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 151st Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 228th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade.
Among those in attendance was U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). Sen. Graham thanked the soldiers and their families for all their sacrifices. He understands the war in the Middle East has gone on for a long time but believes a full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan could be a bad thing.
“Any deal regarding peace in Afghanistan must have a counter-terrorism force made up of U.S. Service members to protect the American homeland,” he said.
Sen. Graham said the threat of terrorism is still out there.
“We’re building a wall along our border to protect us from illegal immigration," Graham said. “You cannot build a wall between here and the Middle East. These soldiers are our ‘wall’. As long as there are some of us over there, ISIS and Al-Qaeda can never be strong enough to hit the American homeland.”
When it comes to the southern border, Senator Graham’s immigration bill passed by a 12-10 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. However, there was controversy. Democrats said Graham broke committee rules.
“I took the action I thought I needed to take to preserve the prerogative of the Chairman,” Sen. Graham said, “which I am, to get things done that have to be done.”
The senator said, after the August recess, he’s ready to reach a compromise on the immigration bill.
“I’m willing to do things Democrats want to do by investing in Central America,” he said, “but we have to change our laws.”