HEIDELBERG, GERMANY - Soldiers from NATO's Allied Land Component Command, Headquarters Heidelberg have begun deploying to Kabul, Afghanistan, in support of the International Security Assistance Force mission.

Soldiers boarded busses here July 21 at Campbell Barracks for a six-month mission that they started training for four months ago. About a third of the nearly 200 soldiers and NATO civilians comprising the overall rotation then departed later on several flights carrying troops from 19 partner nations.

Troops and unit leaders were notified in early April of their ISAF mission as part the standing headquarters in Kabul. The Heidelberg-based organization will comprise the core battle staff for ISAF HQ, and is replacing NATO's Multi-National Corps Northeast Sczeczen, Poland, which has served such duties since January.

ALCC HQ HD's responsibilities will include: intelligence-gathering and analysis; planning tactical and logistical support functions; protocol coordination for visitors; and communications. It also will provide the ISAF commander and front-line troops with necessary tools in supporting in NATO's current primary operation, while also delivering reconstruction and security assets to the people of Afghanistan.

"Deploying to ISAF provides (us) the opportunity to work in a multinational headquarters in a combat headquarters environment," said Col. Patrick McNiece, ALCC HQ HD's intelligence officer. "We are trained and ready for this mission."

Remaining Soldiers from ALCC HQ HD will continue to deploy soon, completing the final phase of pre-deployment operations.

(Maj. Michael Indovina is the deputy public information officer for ALCC HQ HD)