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Another U.S. Army unit is shifting directly from Iraq to Afghanistan, military officials confirmed this week, underscoring an increased emphasis on the Afghan war and the pressures on finding enough troops to fulfill pledges of an increased ground presence.

The 4th Engineer Battalion had spent two weeks in Baghdad before it received orders in March changing its one-year deployment from Iraq to Afghanistan, officials said. They will now be operating in southern Afghanistan, performing route-clearance missions in areas littered with roadside bombs.

"If we were in the frying pan, we’re now heading directly into the fire," Capt. Heath Papkov, a company commander in the battalion, was quoted as saying Friday in a USA Today story.

The shift comes amid a larger change in the focus of U.S. military efforts from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Last month, President Barack Obama announced a revamped war strategy, part of which involves nearly doubling the U.S. troops commitment in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, the Army announced it had shifted the 100th Brigade Support Battalion, which had been in Iraq since December, to southern Afghanistan. It was described as the first large unit to make such a transition since both wars began, though individuals and other units — including a medical command headquarters — have made similar shifts.

Several other U.S. military units have had their orders changed from Iraq to Afghanistan before they left their home bases, officials said.

For the 4th Engineer Battalion, the shift to Afghanistan includes shipping gear and heavy vehicles.

USA Today quoted battalion officials as saying it would take 40 to 60 flights to transfer all of its equipment.

"It’s been pretty stressful. But it’s a good feeling to be going where we’re really needed," 2nd Lt. Gregory Smith was quoted as saying.

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