FORT HOOD — The soldiers of the 8th Engineer Battalion have proved they are thoroughly prepared to execute their mission in Afghanistan, said Lt. Col. Mark A. Geraldi, battalion commander.
“I’m extremely proud of all their hard work,” he said. The “Trojan Horse” Battalion, part of the 36th Engineer Brigade, cased its colors Monday at Cameron Field for a nine-month deployment of about 500 of its soldiers to Regional Command-East in Afghanistan.
Geraldi described the mission of the battalion’s second tour in Afghanistan as a combination of route clearance and construction.
“It’s no doubt a difficult mission, especially being on the tail end of the conflict,” he said.
While the Trojans won’t be directly involved with the drawdown of forces, Geraldi said their work will keep routes open and enable the drawdown to occur.
To prepare, the battalion visited the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and conducted additional training on post.
“Leave here confident you are highly proficient in the skills you bring to the table,” said Col. David Hill, brigade commander.
The agility of the battalion’s leadership will allow it to tackle new challenges and adjust to the constantly changing environment.
“The biggest thing we focused on was dismounted live-fire operations,” Geraldi said. This isn’t something engineers normally focus on, but he said the nature of this mission called for it.
One challenge to training and preparation was that the battalion’s companies began deploying in February.
Two of the battalion’s companies, the 937th Clearance Company and the 59th Mobility Augmentation Company, have been “performing magnificently” for the past 100 days downrange, Geraldi said. Once this wave of soldiers deploys, the 572nd Mobility Augmentation Company will be the only one left at Fort Hood from the battalion.
The brigade already has about 700 soldiers downrange from Fort Hood, Fort Campbell, Ky., and White Sands Missile Range, N.M.