Company C, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment soldiers raid a house at Hohenfels' Schwend military operations in urban terrain, or MOUT, training site on Sunday.

Company C, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment soldiers raid a house at Hohenfels' Schwend military operations in urban terrain, or MOUT, training site on Sunday. (Seth Robson / S&S)

HOHENFELS, Germany — The Op For is headed downrange.

Company C, 1st Battalion 4th Infantry Regiment soldiers — whose regular job involves playing the opposing force, or Op For, during training events for other units at Hohenfels — is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan this summer, said 1-4 commander Lt. Col. Timothy Delass.

The overseas missions allow 1-4 to contribute to the war on terrorism and also keep its soldiers up to date on the latest downrange tactics, giving them knowledge they can use to train others, said Delass, 41, of Rochester, N.Y.

Company C, which learned of the mission in November, will support the Romanian army’s 2nd Infantry Battalion — the Calugareni — in Afghanistan, Delass said.

“It is a great opportunity to train and fight with a multinational force. We have been working with the Romanians since March. This will be the second time we have fought with a Romanian battalion,” Delass said. The unit’s Team Dragon, Company D, served in Afghanistan with a Romanian unit for several months last year, he said.

Romanian 2nd Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Daniel Petrescu, 35, said his unit worked with U.S. National Guardsmen near Nasiriyah and Tallil in Iraq last year.

“We have been partners in training and also in mission area, so I can say that my battalion has a great experience of working with Americans,” he said.

Company C soldiers traveled to Romania for a training exercise earlier this year, he said.

Petrescu said his country, which recently signed an agreement to host a semipermanent U.S. base, would join the European Union in 2007. He said there were many beautiful areas in Romania, including the Carpathian Mountains with the famous Prahova Valley ski area as well as the Black Sea beaches.

On Sunday, Company C and Romanian soldiers practiced a cordon-and-search operation at Hohenfels’ Schwend military operations in urban terrain, or MOUT, site.

After surrounding the town with gun trucks, a team of Company C troops raided a house to secure a pair of medium-value targets. After a brief gunbattle with insurgents in the house, the team found intelligence indicating a weapons cache and more insurgents were holed up in a cave complex nearby. That was also raided and another shoot-out ensued, complete with improvised bombs that sent smoke billowing from the concrete tunnels comprising the cave complex.

Company C commander Capt. Kevin Poole, 30, of Chesterfield, Va., said many soldiers in his unit had already deployed as part of the war on terrorism and about one in five had served in Afghanistan already, he said.

“The guys are very excited to go but cautious because we know where we are going and we know the threat,” he said.

The soldiers who have served in Afghanistan told their comrades that they could expect to do a lot of walking downrange, Poole added.

“They are saying there is no ability for mounted movement. They are pretty austere conditions. You have to leg it. We have been doing a lot of walking for the last three months, doing road marches everywhere we go and trying to condition ourselves for the high altitude and the heat in summer,” he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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