Oklahoma Soldiers Being Deployed To Afghanistan, South America

Friday, February 22nd 2013, 10:05 am
By: Emory Bryan

Another 150 Oklahomans are answering the call to duty.

They're in training for deployment to Afghanistan. It's an engineering company heading out soon to help as other troops are withdrawing from the country.

The 1220th Engineering Company does a lot of driving in convoys. It's one of the most dangerous roles for soldiers in Afghanistan now, with the risk of roadside bombs. That's why they're training at Camp Gruber on how to judge the danger and avoid it.

"We always stay alert, someone is always watching and you always have to present yourself as a hard target," said Sgt. Brian Bigfeather.

Most of the soldiers have deployed overseas before, but with the dangers they face, training on security is a top priority and they take it slow.

When they pull out of a secure area, the overriding concern is to complete the mission and get back safely. So, they spend days driving around Camp Gruber, heading into uncertain scenarios with other soldiers playing the roles of locals. either friendly or unfriendly. The soldiers in the convoy don't know. That's the training.

"How to react to a situation when it arises," said Staff Sgt. Laprix Davis.

Davis is on his fourth deployment, but his first with soldiers under his command.

"As long as I make it and the soldiers make it through another day, that's all that matters—battle focus," Davis said.

This group of soldiers will spend another couple of weeks training at Camp Gruber, then go to Fort Bliss, in Texas, before leaving for Afghanistan in April.

Their mission in Afghanistan is primarily deconstruction, as the Army pulls out of bases in the eastern part of the country.

They'll also do repair work, as the Afghan security forces takes over.

"We actually have a deconstruction mission, which basically consists of tearing down the bases over there," said Captain Joshua Lawson.

The National Guard has a deployment ceremony for next Tuesday, in Muskogee.

The 1220th will be mobilized for a year and will spend nine months overseas.