WESTBROOK, Maine — Members of the 262nd Engineer Company of the Maine Army National Guard are training for a scheduled deployment to Afghanistan later this year where they will help close down bases and forward observation posts as U.S. troops withdraw from the country.
“The 262nd is sourced for a potential mobilization this December,” Maj. Michael Steinbuchel, spokesman for the Maine Army National Guard, said Wednesday.
In preparation for their mission, 150 members of the 262nd began to work their way through a long list of training tasks that must be completed before they deploy. Members of the company worked this month with members of Augusta’s 11th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team on their chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense [CBRN] training, and plan specialized monthly training for the rest of the year, according to Sgt. Angela Parady of the 121st Public Affairs Department based in Augusta.
The 262nd is comprised mostly of heavy equipment operators who will deconstruct buildings and existing structures and build earth-filled barriers to help remove some of the footprint American troops have left after more than a decade of fighting in Afghanistan, Parady said in a Tuesday news release.
“We are conducting CBRN training, the decontamination procedures, assembly and disassembly of our gas masks and our j-list suits, and preparation in case of a CBRN attack,” Spc. Aric Ramirez, an engineer from Portland who is preparing for his first deployment, said in the release. “The masks are uncomfortable and the suits hot and miserable, but if they do their job, I can deal with it.”
Units are first notified of a possible deployment, informed or “sourced” about the deployment and then issued a mobilization date, Steinbuchel said, adding that the Army can make changes to deployments at any point in the lengthy process.
There are currently 167 Maine soldiers deployed overseas as part of three units — Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Forward Support Team, and 1035th Survey and Design Team — that all fall under the Guard’s 133rd Engineer Battalion based in Gardiner, Steinbuchel said.