Cradling her 7-month-old daughter, Taylor, Shannon McMillan brushed away tears Friday as she stood watching her husband, Sgt. Gary McMillan, board an Air Force plane heading to the Middle East.
"I'm upset," she said. "He's going to be apart from us and she's so young. I'm always concerned about his safety. That's one of the drawbacks (of the miliary), but he has to go. I just pray everything will be all right."
During two trips from Bush Field on Friday, about 20 soldiers from Fort Gordon's 513th Military Intelligence Brigade deployed to Southwest Asia, where the threat of military action looms.
Though soldiers were concerned about leaving family, they said they understood the mission at hand.
"I'm reluctant to leave my family," said Sgt. McMillan. "That's the biggest thing right there, but this is why I wear this uniform."
Spc. Michelle Deforest's apprehension was not about the possibility of military combat, but about the nearly 20 hour-flight ahead.
"I'm a little nervous about the plane ride," she said. "I'm OK about going and I don't have a family to worry about. My mother's nervous about me going and didn't want me to go. But, I told her there's nothing I can do, this is why I joined the Army."
No decisions have been made about how long the troops will be gone or what their mission will be when they get to the Middle East, said 513th public affairs representative Sgt. 1st Class Pleasant Lindsey.
"The Secretary of Defense authorized the deployment of additional military forces to the Central Command Region in response to a request from the commander of the U.S. Central Command," he said. "When they arrive at their location, their exact mission will be determined."
The United States has insisted that Iraq grant unrestricted access to the U.N. Special Commission, which has been searching for more than six years to determine if Iraq has eliminated weapons of mass destruction, as required by U.N. resolutions at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Fort Gordon consistently deploys soldiers to Bosnia and other regions in support of peacekeeping missions, Sgt. Lindsey said.
It is not known if more Fort Gordon soldiers will be sent to the Gulf for this particular operation, he said.
"The reason 513th gets called is because the 513th is good at its job," he said. "It's an all-source intelligence brigade. That means they can get intelligence from all sources and analyze it and give the product to the commander on the ground."