The 848th Engineer Company, an Army National Guard unit attached to the Columbus based 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, is deploying nearly 100 soldiers to Afghanistan.
1st Lt. William Carraway, a media relations officer, said the company will be responsible for clearing routes, protecting coalition forces and Afghan civilians. Using specialized equipment, the company will locate and disarm potential explosive devices.
“That is the best friend for the infantry, detecting explosives,” Carraway said.
A departure ceremony is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Douglas Armory in Douglas, Ga. After the ceremony, soldiers are expected to conduct two months of initial training at Fort Bliss, Texas, before arriving in Afghanistan in the spring, said Col. Andy Hall, commander of Columbus’ 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
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1st lt. Johnathan Kiel, commander of the engineer company, said soldiers are excited about another deployment. The light engineer company was last deployed to Iraq in 2008. “They are excited to be going back over to do something they have done several times,” Kiel said.
Kiel said engineers will be using the MRAP, which stands for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected, vehicle and the Buffalo to perform their duties. Although the soldiers will be in a different country, Kiel said engineers will have to get used to different tricks from the enemy.
The soldiers will be operating near the southern region of Afghanistan near the border of Pakistan. Engineers will be leading the way for coalition soldiers during operations.
“They are critical,” Hall said. " They are in the front leading the way for forces. It is a very demanding job, high stress and it takes special training.”
The soldiers will get an additional 30 days of training in Afghanistan before they start their work, Hall said.
More National Guard soldiers will deploy next month. Lt. Col. Ed Granados, commander of 878th Engineer Battalion based in Augusta, also will be deploying to Afghanistan. The commander will lead about 1,100 soldiers during the deployment.