About 600 soldiers in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 14th Engineer Battalion are preparing for a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan, where they’ll be charged with clearing roads of IEDs.
The battalion has deployed three times since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began 10 years ago. This will be its first mission in Afghanistan.
It’ll be on the ground as the U.S. presence in Afghanistan draws down somewhat. President Obama is expected to announce this week that he’ll withdraw the 30,000 “surge” soldiers in Afghanistan by the end of 2012.
The engineers plan to mark their upcoming deployment with a Thursday ceremony where they’ll case their unit colors. That night, they’ll head to a Tacoma Rainiers game. Soldiers are expected to provide a color guard during the National Anthem, and Spc. Patrick Rickard is to throw out the first pitch. He’s the battalion’s “soldier of the year.”