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Deploying Soldiers Get Huge Ceremony (Feb 16, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Thousands of people packed into the Oklahoma City Arena Wednesday for a ceremony for more than 3,200 Oklahoma National Guard soldiers and airmen who are deploying to Afghanistan. The number of people was so large that the nearby Cox Convention Center was also being used.

The troops will leave March 1 for three months training before heading to northeast Afghanistan where Col. Joel Ward says they'll conduct a "full spectrum of operations." Ward said before Wednesday's ceremony that the troops will be involved in offensive, defensive and civil support operations with Afghan security forces.

The 3,200 soldiers and airmen being deployed is the largest deployment of Oklahoma National Guard troops since the Korean War.

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