FRESNO (KCBS) _ The U.S. Military has begun the process of drawing down the number of troops on the ground in Iraq, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.

A group of California National Guard soldiers will be deploying to the country soon to help make for a smoother transition.

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Back in 2003, it was called Operation Iraqi Freedom. And now, the mission is called Operation New Dawn.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

“Things are winding down in Iraq and we’re turning over everything to the Iraqis,” said First Lieutenant Jason Sweeney. “So it’s a new stage.”

Sweeney is among 150 soldiers within the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade that will head out this week to hopefully make a difference overseas.

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“We have young privates that are 18-years-old. This will be their first deployment,” said Sweeney. “We have other soldiers that went over in 2003 and they’ll be going over again.”

The Brigade is headed up by Lieutenant Colonel Laura Yeager, who said it’s always somewhat of a challenge when National Guard soldiers enter into an active combat zone, because they train so infrequently.

The itinerary calls for them to hop on a plane to Fort Hood for two months of intense drills, before flying off to Iraq, probably around mid-February.

“We’re looking forward to doing our jobs, but it’s sad that we’re going to be gone for a year,” Yeager said.

Operation New Dawn, laid out by President Barack Obama earlier this year, calls for all U.S. soldiers to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

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