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Around 200 members of the 48th Brigade based in Macon prepared to deploy for Afghanistan at a ceremony Sunday morning at the Macon Marriott.

The sendoff featured their families gathering along with Mayor Robert Reichert and other military and local leaders, before they loaded their gear on buses and said their goodbyes.

After being escorted by Patriot Guard riders and being cheered on by their family members, the buses will take them to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where they will get mobilization training before heading to Kabul in January for Operation Enduring Freedom.

Their mission will primarily be security in the Kabul area and closing down some of the camps in the area as part of the overall draw down of troops in Afghanistan, says Col. Randall Simmons, who will be the brigade's leader.

Simmons says for around half of the soldiers, this will be their first deployment.

The brigade is centered in Macon, but has soldiers from all across Georgia. The 48th is a National Guard position, with many of its members holding other jobs.

The soldiers will be assigned to Afghanistan for between 10 months and a year.

Follow 13WMAZ's Tom George on Twitter @thetomgeorge

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