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Schweinfurt battalions depart for Afghanistan

July 13, 2011

By Mr Charles K Stadtlander (IMCOM)

SCHWEINFURT, Germany " Through a flood of tears and reluctant parting embraces, more Schweinfurt Soldiers said farewell to their families before departing to spend a year in Afghanistan. After the initial departures of small groups of advanced echelon and strategic planning Soldiers last week, the massive main body of troops began their transit downrange in recent days.

Under the bright summer sun on July 11, Soldiers gathered with rifles slung over their shoulders and pockets rattling with plastic bottles of anti-malaria pills. Some children wept, some lovingly embraced their fathers and mothers with words of farewell. Single Soldiers joked with each other and friends came to offer support to those without families.

All in attendance " family and friends alike " said their formal goodbyes as the Soldiers boarded buses that would take them to the first in a series of stops between Schweinfurt and their final destination Afghanistan’s eastern provinces over several days’ travel. Their tense anticipation at leaving Schweinfurt will only be magnified over the coming days as they endure many briefings long periods of waiting.

The 9th Engineer Battalion, 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment and 172nd Support Battalion are all deploying to Afghanistan as part of the 172nd Infantry Brigade’s mid-summer replacement of troops in the International Security Assistance Force’s Regional Command East. The three battalions make up nearly half of Schweinfurt’s troop population.

According to ISAF’s website, the mission of troops will be to reduce the capability and will of the insurgency, bolster Afghanistan’s own native security force and facilitate national development to foster stability in the country.

For the families still here in Schweinfurt, the mission seems to be aimed at offering emotional support to each other while the troops are deployed and marking the days off the calendar until their loved ones’ return in summer next year.

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