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The 789th EOD Co. deployed Monday to join 3rd HBCT in Iraq.

FORT BENNING, Ga. - Fort Benning's bomb disposal experts are returning to Iraq for the second time with the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team.

Forty-two Soldiers with the 789th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company departed Monday from Lawson Army Airfield to begin a yearlong deployment to Iraq.

The Soldiers will join Taskforce Troy and the 3rd HBCT to focus on improvised explosive device and counter-IED operations, said CPT Jeffrey McCullough, 789th EOD's commander.

The Soldiers will be headquartered at Forward Operating Base Kalsu and serve dual missions of countering the IED threat and training Iraqi bomb disposal companies, said McCullough, who took command of the unit following his return from a Taskforce Troy deployment in April.

The 789th EOD Co. will relieve its sister unit, the 49th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company based out of Fort Campbell, Ky.

"We provide mobility on the battlefield," McCullough said. "IEDs can impede movement on the roads so we are called in to disable devices and recover evidence. In laymen's terms, we are a bomb squad, but we do a lot more than disabling explosives."

Part of the unit's counter-IED mission is to gather intelligence on trends and analysis of IED-laden areas to help locate the manufacturers, financiers and suppliers, he said.

"That's how we save lives," he said. "We take that evidence and attack the IED network. It's been proven many times that when we take out a network IED emplacements drop from one a day to one a month."

The unit's last deployment to Iraq, from May 2007 to August 2008, was successful in disrupting IEDs and protecting troops.

"We disabled more than 900 bombs, IEDs and unexploded ordnance," said 1SG Adam Reyes, the unit's senior NCO. "Through the brigade's counter-insurgency operations, we were also able to identify key leaders in insurgency groups and take them down."

The brigade's greatest challenge may not be disabling bombs, but training Iraqis to do the same.

"This is not a typical mission," the first sergeant said. "We will be training Iraqi bomb disposal companies on how to handle devices and what could get them hurt. Language and culture barriers may be the hardest things for us to overcome initially."

McCullough said more than 60 percent of the unit is made up of combat veterans from the unit's previous deployment with 3rd HBCT.

The Soldiers are expected to return in October 2010.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16