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First Lt. George Harrivel, 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, briefs his soldiers on the day's missions. The troops were to escort an EOD team up a mountain near a local village and to an area where there were reports of unexploded mines.
First Lt. George Harrivel, 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, briefs his soldiers on the day's missions. The troops were to escort an EOD team up a mountain near a local village and to an area where there were reports of unexploded mines. (Alex Pena/Stars and Stripes)
First Lt. George Harrivel, 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, briefs his soldiers on the day's missions. The troops were to escort an EOD team up a mountain near a local village and to an area where there were reports of unexploded mines.
First Lt. George Harrivel, 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, briefs his soldiers on the day's missions. The troops were to escort an EOD team up a mountain near a local village and to an area where there were reports of unexploded mines. (Alex Pena/Stars and Stripes)
Soldiers from the 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, scale the side of a mountain where they had reports of possible mines. The soldiers walk in a linear formation when clearing the routes, to avoid stepping on a possible mine. This RCP team does missions like this on a weekly basis.
Soldiers from the 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, scale the side of a mountain where they had reports of possible mines. The soldiers walk in a linear formation when clearing the routes, to avoid stepping on a possible mine. This RCP team does missions like this on a weekly basis. (Alex Pena/Stars and Stripes)
First Lt. George Harrivel, 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, speaks with a local shopkeeper about possible mines that might have been placed in the mountains. The team calls these conversations KLEs, or key leadership engagements, and relies heavily on the information obtained from them to support their missions.
First Lt. George Harrivel, 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, speaks with a local shopkeeper about possible mines that might have been placed in the mountains. The team calls these conversations KLEs, or key leadership engagements, and relies heavily on the information obtained from them to support their missions. (Alex Pena/Stars and Stripes)
In this undated file photo, soldiers from the 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, investigate potential mines on the side of a mountain near Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.
In this undated file photo, soldiers from the 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, investigate potential mines on the side of a mountain near Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. (Alex Pena/Stars and Stripes)
Soldiers from the 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, walk in a linear formation up the side of a mountain where reports say potential mines have been found. The soldiers carry mine sweepers on their backs.
Soldiers from the 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, walk in a linear formation up the side of a mountain where reports say potential mines have been found. The soldiers carry mine sweepers on their backs. (Alex Pena/Stars and Stripes)
Spc. Jeremy Danes, with the 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, stares out the window of an armored buffalo vehicle, checking the road and the local population for signs of a potential threat. The RCP team's mission took them through the highly populated city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
Spc. Jeremy Danes, with the 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, stares out the window of an armored buffalo vehicle, checking the road and the local population for signs of a potential threat. The RCP team's mission took them through the highly populated city of Mazar-e-Sharif. (Alex Pena/Stars and Stripes)

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan — Soldiers who work route clearance with the 321st Engineering Company based at Camp Marmal in Mazar-e-Sharif are often the first to travel some roads, exposing themselves to the threat of mines.

On a recent mission, the route clearance unit was investigating reports that a set of unexploded mines was found on a hilltop near a local market place.

On the route clearance mission, the troops keep a sharp eye out for any signs of possible threats, not only from buried mines, but also from insurgents who may be in the crowded city, which they drive through ever day.

To minimize risk, the troops stop and talk with locals to find out if they’ve seen anything unusual. When walking toward the site of suspected mines, they walk single file to avoid stepping off the clearned path.

pena.alex@stripes.com

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