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Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment soldiers parade at a farewell ceremony on Monday. The company is heading to Afghanistan for a six-month mission as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment soldiers parade at a farewell ceremony on Monday. The company is heading to Afghanistan for a six-month mission as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Mideast edition, Wednesday, July 18, 2007

HOHENFELS, Germany — They’ve climbed Bad Reichenhall, trained with Afghan National Army troops at Hohenfels and honed their field craft over the past four months.

Now Team Apache, composed mostly of 160 soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, is on its way to Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. Timothy Delass, 1-4 commander, told Team Apache members gathered at Hohenfels’ Warrior Field for a farewell ceremony on Monday that their mission will “complete the circle” for the battalion.

The unit, which acts as the opposing force during exercises at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center for other units headed downrange, has been sending each of its companies on six-month rotations to Afghanistan over the past two years. The deployments help the 1-4 soldiers see what life is like on the ground for troops and allows them to make the training more realistic back home.

Company A, which has transitioned from its Op-For duties to become motorized infantry for the Afghan mission, is the last 1-4 line company to head downrange.

The company will replace 1-4’s Company B (Team Bulldog), which is fighting in Zabul province, Afghanistan, under the Romanian army’s 33rd Mountain Infantry Battalion.

Delass said the 1-4 troops in Team Apache are augmented by mortar men and military intelligence personnel from throughout U.S. Army Europe along with Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Joint Tactical Air Controller teams that will join them on the way to Afghanistan.

“These guys have spent long hours training. They have climbed Bad Reichenhall ... They did a [mission rehearsal exercise] with Afghan National Army soldiers. Their performance in the last four months in preparation for the deployment was nothing short of remarkable,” he said.

Team Apache commander Capt. Pongpat Piluek said his men have honed their field craft and come together as a unit since the team’s inception in April.

“I can see the motivation in their eyes. The motivation to do our part in OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom). We’ll take the baton from Team Bulldog so they can come home to a well-earned rest and time with their families,” he said.

Team Apache will begin deploying to Afghanistan this week.

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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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