FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Soldiers of the 86th Signal Battalion held a casing ceremony at Brown Parade Field, March 25. The historic ceremony marks the battalion's first deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

For the past 90 days, the Soldiers have been going through intense training and preparation, said Lt. Col. Paul Craft, commander of the 86th Sig Bn.

"We have gone through the rigors of a Culminating Training Exercise during some of the coldest days in Arizona, and they [Soldiers] all met the standard," said Craft. Over the past year, the battalion has seen a 100-percent personnel increase and growth to twice the communications capability.

"Our Soldiers are physically ready. They have been briefed, counseled, trained and made culturally aware to prepare them for this fight," said Craft.

Part of the training included firing and qualifying on every weapons system provided by the Army, giving the battalion three times more firepower.

The battalion certified 67 individual teams on their signal equipment and also conducted Humvee [High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle] rollover training.

Another part of the pre-deployment training included Family Readiness Groups in which Family members were trained and briefed about the upcoming deployment.

During the ceremony, Craft addressed the Family members by saying, "Thank you for standing by your 86th [Sig. Bn.] Soldiers. We worked long and we worked hard to ensure that everyone is ready. There were many late nights and weekends that were spent away from home to get us here today," Craft said.

"Your love and devotion fuels us to continue to do great things."

Craft ended by saying, "Soldiers, NCOs [noncommissioned officers] and officers of the 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, please know that your personal sacrifices and professionalism are inspiring to every American. Our Nation recognizes and holds dear 'The American Soldier.' Thank you for all that you do and all that you will do in the months to come."

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