FORT KNOX, Ky. (Feb. 4, 2015) -- The deployment of the 904th Contingency Contracting Battalion to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel in February is the first for the unit since its move to Fort Knox, Kentucky, in June 2011.The battalion's Soldiers at Fort Knox, Kentucky, will depart for Fort Bliss, Texas, in the coming days for additional training before deploying to Afghanistan. They will join members of the 418th Contracting Support Brigade, or CSB, from Fort Hood, Texas, who are assuming responsibility for all U.S. contract actions in Afghanistan.Historically, contracting Soldiers have deployed individually or, at most, as four-person, team-size elements. The ability to deploy as a battalion has been limited due to manning restrictions, mission command responsibilities, and the inability to integrate Soldiers and leaders with primarily civilian-run organizations.Members of Mission and Installation Contracting Command, or MICC-Fort Knox, friends, family and guests took part in an official deployment ceremony today at the Patton Museum where the 904th CCBn formally cased its colors in preparation for the deployment.Operation Freedom's Sentinel is a follow-on mission after the end of U.S. combat missions in Afghanistan in December as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Operation Freedom's Sentinel entails working with allies and partners as part of NATO's Resolute Support Mission as well as continuing counterterrorism measures against Al-Qaeda.Lt. Col. Scott McKee, the 904th CCBn commander, will deploy with just over half of the Soldiers from the battalion and one civilian team member from Fort Knox. Soldiers remaining at Fort Knox will continue their contracting support mission and continue to train for contingency missions around the world.Soldiers of the 904th have worked alongside the civilians of the MICC since June 2011. During that time, the 904th CCBn has worked and trained with civilian contracting officers to develop unique skills that are required in government acquisitions.The attachment of Soldiers to MICC contracting offices came as a decision by Army Contracting Command officials in an effort to help to streamline the span of control from oversight of Soldiers stateside while enhancing their professional development.Over the last five years, the 904th CCBn provided individual contracting officers and contracting teams to Operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom, the hurricane relief effort from Hurricane Sandy, and various operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. This upcoming deployment by the battalion marks the first time it will deploy as a battalion-sized element.Collectively, the battalion has trained on basic warrior tasks such as small arms, combat life saver and functions inherently unique to Army contracting. Individual Soldiers also have spent multiple weeks at various Defense Acquisition University training classes that allow for a more capable contracting organization."Contingency contract training is difficult to replicate. The NCOs [non-commissioned officers], officers and civilians of MICC-Fort Knox and the 904th Contracting Battalion have worked tirelessly to provide effective and realistic training for the Soldiers who are about to deploy," McKee said. "I have complete confidence in their ability to execute their wartime mission."The mission for the 904th CCBn will be a joint leadership challenge as the current contracting operation in Afghanistan is primarily run by the Air Force and Defense Contract Management Agency. The 418th CSB and 904th CCBn will assume contracting responsibility from the Air Force and Defense Contract Management Agency, which will mark the first time, since combat operations began in 2001, that the Army will be the lead service for contracting.