Tonight we continue our special series, "Illinois Deploys."
KHQA's Melissa Shriver traveled to Fort Bragg, North Carolina where three thousand soldiers with the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team are training for deployment to Afghanistan.
Their mission - to train and mentor Afghan security forces as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Their days are filled with intense training before they leave at the end of this month. She found out what they do during downtime.
Ordinarily it's tough to keep up with what's going while in training and in the field.
First Lieutenant Cheryl Barnett said, "I noticed we're out of it. We have TVs that we can see but we don't spend a lot of time watching them. I like the internet and I don't have the internet all the time so I miss that."
How do you kick back to relieve stress?
Staff Sgt. Daniel Sweikar said, "We pass around movies and watch movies when we get some downtime when we're not preparing for the next mission and listen to music and stuff like that. Hang out with each other and crack jokes to ease the atmosphere."
For the most part, technology is limited around camp, soldiers play games. One of the most interesting is guessing what freeze dried entrees will pop up in their M-R-E lunches.
How do you spend you time around here?
Sgt. Christopher Rilea said, "Well, when we're not training, we're finding different things to do like p-t and talking with one another."
How do you keep upbeat here at camp?
Staff Sgt. Todd Smith said, "We just talk with each other and talk about family and friends and what's on duty for tomorrow and talk with each other and get through it."
Sgt. Jason McCreary said, "There's some guys who haven't been in the unit as long as other ones so we pick up more the longer we're here so trying to keep the platoon integrity and stuff like that."
It's those relationships they're building now that will see them through the mission ahead.