ANCHORAGE, Alaska - After a year of preparation and training, the 62nd Engineer Detachment is headed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“This team stands ready to tackle the toughest problems that can be thrown at them,” said Capt. Corey Warren, detachment commander, during the unit’s deployment ceremony Sept. 26 at the headquarters for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Alaska District on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
The unit is one of eight active-duty Army engineering teams that deploy quickly to augment the engineering staff of other organizations.
Commonly referred to as a Forward Engineer Support Team-Advance, each detachment has a military commander and noncommissioned officer-in-charge along with six Army civilian employees specializing in civil, environmental, mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as geographic information systems and contracting.
Teams are sent to locations around the world to assess critical infrastructure and assist with technical engineering and design. Using limited contracting support, the units work with military and civil agencies during the range of operations that Army forces conduct in war and military operations other than war.
Although a small group, the team can communicate with the rest of the Corps of Engineers’ 34,000 employees to solve combatant commanders’ most complex engineering challenges.
The unit’s lineage traces back to 1943. It has participated in 11 campaigns spanning World War II, Vietnam and after its most recent activation Oct. 17, 2007, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn from April 2010 to April 2011.
Since Warren took command last August, he witnessed a team returning from Iraq dissolve and form into a new one. During the past year, part of the unit deployed to assist the Republic of Palau after fire disrupted that nation’s power grid. Then the entire detachment traveled to the Philippines to support the Balikatan joint military operations training exercise. Finally, after a rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., the team achieved certification to deploy to Afghanistan.
Between deployments, unit members prepared for Afghanistan by attending resident courses and completing hundreds of hours of online training. Each step along the way developed and sharpened the team’s skills and unity of purpose. The ceremony marked the completion of the unit’s preparation, Warren said.
“You are ready to execute the mission, and the mission is hugely important,” said Col. Christopher Lestochi, district commander. “You are contributing directly to the effort by our country and your Army to further freedom and liberty in a struggling nation in a troubled part of the world.”
The unit may be called to support a range of tasks from constructing the infrastructure needed to support U.S. forces to building facilities that will enable the Afghanistan National Security Force to assume the mission from NATO to building infrastructure that will contribute to the Afghan people’s capacity to develop as a nation, Lestochi said.
“It will be hard, but recognize that it is also a rare and limited opportunity for you to make a difference,” he said.
For current team members, Afghanistan will be their second or third deployment. Two members have been with the unit since it was activated.
"I know this team is ready, and I know they will not disappoint,” Warren said.