WEST FORT HOOD — Any nerves Spc. Shannon Klaczynski has as she faces her first deployment after 2½ years in the Army are diminished by the confidence of her commanders.

“Our leaders (are) telling us, ‘You’re ready. We’ve gone through this training, you know what you’re doing, you’re solid as teams and you’re ready to go,’” said Klaczynski, a human intelligence collector for 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. “Deploying was one of the main reasons I enlisted in the Army. It is something to be excited

about (because I) have the opportunity to do the job that I’ve been training for for so long.”

Klaczynski’s unit cased its colors Wednesday at Blue Watch Field as more than 200 battalion soldiers prepare to deploy to Regional Command-South in Afghanistan in September.

“Over the next nine months, we will provide mission command (with more than) 200 military intelligence soldiers and civilians,” said Lt. Col. Mark Johnson, battalion commander. “We will conduct tactical intelligence collection to provide early warning for protection of coalition and Afghan forces.”

Johnson said the unit trained heavily at Fort Hood, across the U.S. and with partners in Germany. While deployed, soldiers will train Afghan military and intelligence forces and assist security forces to help them identify, locate and eliminate threats to Afghans.

“There is no better trained and ready military intelligence battalion in the Army today to conduct combat operations in Regional Command-South than the soldiers (in this battalion),” Johnson said. “I’m so proud of all of you. The nation called and you answered.”

As the U.S. winds down the nearly 12-year war in Afghanistan, Klaczynski said she’s excited to be a part of the crucial moment where Americans focus on stabilizing Afghanistan and handing control back to the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Uniform Police.

“The last time this battalion deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom, they were able to capture and kill over 150 high value individuals,” Klaczynski said. “There’s a lot to be done here in terms of what we can offer. ... I feel absolutely prepared for it.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at srafique@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SarahRafique

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