Fort Bliss welcomes back NC-ARNG Soldiers
Claudia R. Kennedy,
DoMaD Public Affairs:
Approximately 190 Soldiers of the North Carolina Army National Guard landed at Biggs Army Airfield Sept. 6 after a 10-month tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Soldiers of the 881st Engineer Support Company and 883rd Sapper Engineer Company arrived at Fort Bliss and were greeted by unit representatives along with the Directorate of Mobilization and Deployment command group as they exited the plane.
Soldiers from Winston-Salem, N.C., deployed from Fort Bliss in October last year. This was the first deployment as the 881st ESC and the 883rd Sappers. The Sappers, formally designated as the 105th Engineer Group, was reconstituted in 2006 to the 883rd Sappers. The 883rd consists of combat engineers, whereas the 881st consists of horizontal combat engineers mostly concerned with equipment work and repairs. The state has merged both companies into one route-clearance company, with four route-clearance platoons.
Capt. James E. McVeigh, company commander for the 883rd, explained the unit’s mission and accomplishments overseas. The units were primarily responsible for conducting route-clearance missions in Zabul province in southern Afghanistan, assisting the local nationals and other coalition forces. The unit was responsible for providing a major highway that was a corridor for all civilian traffic. The 883rd was also responsible for clearing routes of any offensive movements so other units could get in the area to conduct key leader engagement missions.
McVeigh says the 883rd conducted 709 route-clearance missions in Afghanistan. The company was awarded a significant amount of Combat Action Badges for all the different activities they were involved in. They reduced improvised explosive device casualties by 76 percent by identifying IEDs before joint warfighters were hit by them.
“The unit did a pretty outstanding job for the mission they were in,” said McVeigh.
Additionally, the unit was tasked to train the Afghan National Army’s route-clearance team, which was just standing up when the 883rd arrived into theatre. The Afghan route-clearance team was constituted, but they really had no formal training. The 883rd developed them to a point where they can almost go out on their own now. According to McVeigh, it was a daunting task trying to train three platoons of Afghan nationals.
“It’s difficult because they don’t have the type of equipment that we do, so there is a limited amount of stuff that we can teach them,” said McVeigh.
With a safe return to Fort Bliss, the 883rd and 881st will undergo the demobilization process. Army standard allows up to 14 days to complete the process. DoMaD has streamlined the process, cutting it down to about eight to nine days, allowing the Soldier to get home to his or her family sooner. Although the process is shortened, DoMaD ensures 100 percent accountability and satisfaction for all out-processing requirements, so the Soldier and his or her family are taken care of with zero deficiencies in their administrative documents.
The first group of Soldiers returned to their home station Sept. 14 with the remainder departing Sept. 15.
Staff Sgt. Philip Rogers, combat engineer with the 883rd, said he was excited to get home to Fayetteville to see his family. For Rogers, this was his second deployment, but the mission never ends. When he is not on active duty, Rogers is a law enforcement officer.
“I’m excited to get back to my job in civil service to help people in my community,” said Rogers.
McVeigh, from Kernesville, N.C., is excited to go home to see his wife. They have a trip to Italy planned.
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