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21st TSC Troops Deploy To Afghanistan
By Steve Mraz
Stars and Stripes
European Edition
March 21, 2005

When their boots hit combat soil, they'll find themselves in an ancient, war-damaged nation in places such as Bagram, Kandahar and Kabul.

And they wont be returning for a year.

Roughly 170 soldiers under the umbrella of the 21st Theater Support Command loaded onto a commercial jet at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Saturday afternoon and departed for a yearlong Afghanistan deployment.

Their mission: To provide logistical support and force protection for all U.S.-friendly forces in Afghanistan.

Soldiers heading out Saturday represented the 330th Rear Operations Center and the 29th Support Group Headquarters and Headquarters Company. Those elements are part of the 21st TSC, which by July will have deployed about 1,100 troops to Afghanistan for its joint logistics command mission.

While waiting to depart Saturday, several troops said they were excited and ready to go. Troops used the long wait to catnap, fiddle with their iPods and get in a few games on a Sony PlayStation.

Also with the group Saturday were 54 soldiers with the 208th Finance Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. Kathryn Hall. The unit "brings the cash to the battlefield" to pay soldiers and contractors, Hall said.

"[The the 208th soldiers] have certainly earned their place on this team," she said.

All the troops will fly to Kyrgyzstan and from there will depart to several locations in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Renee Walker of the 29th Support Group HHC is keeping an open mind about her yearlong deployment, but is reassured by the ability of her troops in vehicle maintenance.

"It's almost like I'm with family and soldiers at the same time," she said. "I know their capabilities, and they know my capabilities."

After looking into the eyes of his soldiers, Col. Walter J. Sawyer, commander of the 29th Support Group, knew his troops were ready for their Afghanistan deployment.

"What they are getting ready to do is not only important to the guy or gal next to them but to the entire mission," he said.

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This article is provided courtesy of Stars & Stripes, which got its start as a newspaper for Union troops during the Civil War, and has been published continuously since 1942 in Europe and 1945 in the Pacific. Stripes reporters have been in the field with American soldiers, sailors and airmen in World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Bosnia and Kosovo, and are now on assignment in the Middle East.

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Copyright 2004 Stars and Stripes. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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