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Soldiers in JBLM's 787th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company headed to Afghanistan

787th EOD Co. cased unit colors May 1 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Commander Capt. Corey Harris stands before the 787th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company during the unit colors casing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, May 1. Photo Credit: 1st Lt. James Rowlands

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With the mission to disarm roadside bombs and to train Afghan military, nearly 50 soldiers from the 787th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 3rd EOD Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, will soon be heading to Afghanistan for a nine-month assignment.

This morning, a ceremony was held for the deploying soldiers from the 787th EOD Company, the Patriots.

"It's a support slash training partnership in this critical time of Afghan draw down," said Capt. Corey Harris, company commander of the 787th EOD. "It's a very important mission."

The Patriots returned from a year's assignment to Afghanistan in January 2013. Since 2001, a bomb unit from JBLM has been deployed to the Middle East for all but three months of that 13-year period.

"For most of the soldiers, this is not their first deployment," said Lt. Col. Stephen Kavanaugh, commander of the 3rd EOD Battalion. "They've been over there before, whether it was Iraq or Afghanistan."

Roadside bombs, IEDs, have been used in Afghanistan by insurgent groups and have caused over 66 percent of the casualties since 2001.

>>> Commander Capt. Corey Harris and 1st Sgt. Daniel Massey case the 787th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company guidon at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, May 1. Photo credit: 1st Lt. James Rowlands

It has been reported that IEDs are the number one cause of death among U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Even as U.S. forces continue to withdraw from the Middle East, the use of bombs detonated by a pressure plate or by a remote control device is as big of a threat as ever.

"Right now, you may be seeing a spike," Harris said. "But right now, the local ANA (Afghan National Army) are taking over. We've trained them."

As the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan continues, the training of Afghanistan military becomes crucial.

"The primary thing is supporting the U.S. forces that are over there and the training of the Afghan forces," Kavanaugh said. "We've shifted the focus. For them to do a better job of finding it themselves, supporting their own nation. That way we can leave. Depart for good."

While IEDs are commonly roadside bombs, Kavanaugh said they can placed "anywhere and everywhere."

"It's important to remain vigilant on their mission," Kavanaugh said. "Don't allow complacency to take hold in any form or fashion."

In his talk to the deploying soldiers, Harris gave a motivational speech and got everyone fired up for deployment.

"It's a very important mission," Harris said.

In today's ceremony, the unit colors were cased in preparation for their deployment. The ceremony is a military tradition officially marking a unit's deployment or relocation. When the 787th EOD Company arrives in Afghanistan, the colors will be uncased, marking the completion of the unit relocation.

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