Another small contingent of Army soldiers is on its way from Iraq to Afghanistan, military officials said Tuesday.
Select troops from the 46th Engineer Combat Battalion will be sent to Kandahar province as the 31st Concrete Team — a unit name that very literally describes the troops’ mission: “Construct reinforced concrete pads to provide improved living quarters, maintenance and other support facilities for soldiers on several expanding forward operating bases.”
After moving three units from Iraq to Afghanistan earlier this year, the Pentagon acknowledged that more Army units with specific “enabling skills” could be shifted as the U.S. military seeks to provide forces for a promised escalation of troops this year.
As the U.S. military draws down from around 132,000 servicemembers in Iraq, officials are looking for ways to fill President Barack Obama’s orders that could nearly double the U.S. military’s current 38,000-troop commitment in Afghanistan.
By the end of 2011, officials have said, the U.S. military presence in Iraq could be down to between 30,000 and 50,000.
The units that have made the move to Afghanistan include a transportation company, an engineer battalion specializing in clearing roadside bombs, a brigade support battalion and smaller medical teams. The new 31st Concrete Team will be made up of 15 soldiers from the 46th Engineers, officials said.
“I’ve deployed to Afghanistan once before,” Staff Sgt. Wesley Roach, a team leader with 46th ECB, was quoted as saying in an Army news release. “This time will be very interesting. I’m not sure what all of our jobs will be, but we will definitely be helping to build up forward operating bases in the outlying areas of Kandahar.”
While in Afghanistan, the 31st Concrete Team will be assigned to the 19th Engineer Battalion out of Fort Knox, Ky., officials said.
The 31st Concrete Team is scheduled to be deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan for 12 months.