FORT SILL, Okla. (Aug. 29, 2013) -- With more than 60 percent of all U.S. casualties in Afghanistan attributed to improvised explosive devices, the explosive ordnance disposal mission is not only important in protecting American Soldiers, but also for the people in local communities, said an Army battalion leader who commands EOD units.

Fort Sill's 761st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company held a deployment ceremony Aug. 21 with hundreds of Fort Sill and Lawton leaders, fellow Soldiers, family, friends, civilian workers and veterans bidding the Soldiers so long and good luck. Forty-four members of the 761st EOD will perform a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan.

"They are absolutely ready to deploy forward and protect our forces," said Lt. Col. David Green, 79th EOD Battalion commander, at Fort Hood, Texas. "Over the past year, they have worked very hard to learn all their tasks." The 761st EOD is one of seven companies under the 79th EOD.

The EOD mission is chemical, biological radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives (CBRN) said Capt. Bradley Jarrett, 761st EOD Company commander. This includes IEDS and conventional ordnance, and his Soldiers are cross-trained in all areas.

The 761st began extensive non-stop training for its deployment one year ago, Green said. This included situation exercise training, or STX lanes, and company field training exercises, conducted internally as well as externally resourced.

The training culminated with a one-month mock deployment to Joint Readiness Training Center Fort Polk, La., Jarrett said.

"It simulated the environment and missions we'll see downrange (deployed)," he said. "A key component was integrating with the (Fort Knox, Ky.) brigade that we'll be working with hand-in-hand downrange."

It was only in July that unit members were finally able to squeeze in block annual leave before their deployment.

Six members of his unit will remain here as the rear detachment to maintain its Fort Sill missions. Three EOD teams will continue to support Range Operations' training areas with unexploded ordnance removal, as well as the unit's mutual aid mission to assist local law enforcement and bomb squads, Jarrett said.

"We will continue that mission to keep the people of Lawton, and the surrounding areas safe," he said.

Jarrett added the unit is capable, prepared and excited about its deployment. "We're proud to serve the people of the United States, we're proud to serve our community and we're proud to represent Fort Sill and the Lawton area downrange."