National Guard soldiers from Cottage Grove, Woodbury and other communities around the state leave Thursday for a one-year deployment in Afghanistan.

The 22 soldiers represent A Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard.

A departure ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Bloomington Armory in Bloomington.

There are two soldiers from Cottage Grove deploying with the unit, and one from Woodbury.

"These soldiers have volunteered and stood up to the challenge to augment the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Oklahoma on their deployment to Afghanistan," said officer in charge of the deploying unit, Army 2nd Lt. Ashley A. Kerr, in a news release. "We look forward to the challenges ahead and to represent the Minnesota National Guard, proudly."

Army Lt. Col. Gary Mundfrom, commander for the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, said the unit's mission during deployment is to provide "collection and analyst support to the 45th Brigade Combat Team's military intelligence company."

The soldiers comprise 18 Minnesota cities, including Farmington, Rosemount, Duluth and Two Harbors, and one city in Illinois.

The soldiers leave Thursday for training in Mississippi, which is scheduled to run until May, before departing for Afghanistan sometime this summer. The troops are expected to return to Minnesota on a date to be determined in spring 2012.