HEIDELBERG, Germany - About 200 Soldiers and civilian employees of NATO's Allied Land Component Command Headquarters, Heidelberg deploying to Afghanistan received their official farewell during ceremonies on Campbell Barracks the morning of July 7.

The unit, with Soldiers from all 26 NATO member nations, will deploy later this month to serve as the command and control element for NATO's 37,000-Soldier International Security Assistance Force in Kabul.

"We are keen and ready to serve in a major operation," German Army Lt. Gen. Karl-Heinz Lather, ALCC commander, told his Soldiers. "The time and opportunity have come to prove our reliability and readiness."

Members of the contingent have undergone several months of training, starting with their nation's military standards, their functional areas and military occupational specialties and as a battle staff. For a most of those deploying, the last part of the training - a mission readiness exercise in Stavanger, Norway - was completed the day before the ceremony.
"You have every reason to look confidently to the future because you are ready for the challenging job in ISAF," the general said.
"That's true for everyone - from corporal to general."

The Heidelberg-based unit last deployed to Afghanistan in 2004. Since then, members of the unit have deployed as individual augmentees, he said.

Lather reminded the formation that they are representing their nations and the command during the six-month deployment. He urged them to continue their passion for success and dedication to duty, demonstrate their flexibility and stamina as Soldiers and to watch out and support one another.

"Only as a team will you be able to successfully deal with all the challenging tasks ahead of you," he said. "Look after yourselves, remain disciplined and cautious."

In addition to issuing challenges to the deploying contingent, Lather said those serving in the rear detachment will also face challenges that will require, stamina and flexibility that "will be as vital for us as for our comrades deployed to ISAF."

Lather said the rear detachment will assist the deploying Soldiers' families and will ensure their needs and concerns are met.

"You can count on us in Heidelberg - the Family Support Centre in particular - to provide assistance to those close to your hearts," he pledged.

(Dave Melancon is a member of the USAG Garrison Heidelberg Public Affairs Office)