WEST FORT HOOD — Exactly 14 months after uncasing its colors from a deployment to Afghanistan, the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion furled them Friday to deploy again.

Just as before, the “Longhorn” Battalion, part of the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, cased its colors on Ready Field to deploy nearly 300 soldiers to Regional Command-East to conduct counterinsurgency and stabilization operations. Soldiers will provide intelligence for the 101st Airborne Division and a Polish brigade, while also working with and training Afghan National Security Forces.

“These soldiers are highly trained, prepared and ready to deploy,” said Lt. Col. Jan L. Rueschhoff, battalion commander.

Sgt. Deanna Rivera, the battalion’s noncommissioned officer of the year, agreed that she is ready to get to work on the mission. “We’ve done excellent training,” she said, highlighting the three separate months spent training at Camp Bullis. “They have such a good training plan set up for us down there. It’s nice to actually be able to use all our skills there before we get into country where it really matters.”

Rueschhoff described Camp Bullis as realistic training involving native Afghan role-players and real-life scenarios.

“We were at a (training) site just outside of San Antonio and it felt like Afghanistan,” he said. “This challenging training was a great combination and it boosted our readiness to a level that would be hard to have done here at Fort Hood.”

Tamara Robinson serves as the senior adviser for the battalion’s family readiness group. She said they, too, have been preparing and building teams for the deployment. “We are trying to get a lot of spouses involved,” she said. “We want to be there to support the spouses and just let them know that someone is there for them. They don’t have to go through deployment by themselves.”

As a single mother of three, Rivera said her only nerves now are in saying goodbye to her kids. “They don’t want me to go,” she said. “Last time it prepared them, and last time it was for a year. This time it’s nine months, so they know I’m going home a little bit faster.”

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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