BALTIMORE (AP) — Nearly 200 members of the Maryland National Guard have parted with their families to serve in the Middle East.

Media outlets report that the members of the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade received a send-off on Sunday at the base in Edgewood. The Guardsmen will receive a month’s training in Fort Hood, Texas before leaving to serve nine months in Kuwait.

The unit will coordinate Army aircraft — helicopters, airplanes, drones — for soldiers on the front lines.

Col. Charles Kohler says the deployment will bring to about 500 the number of Maryland Army National Guardsmen overseas. He says the mission further reveals the evolution of the National Guard into roles of increasing responsibility as officials draw down the number of active-duty troops overseas.

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