- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2003

Members of a specialized Army support unit yesterday said goodbye to their families and loved ones with kisses and hugs before deploying from Fort Belvoir to the Middle East.
The group of about 55 reservists called up for active duty with the Army Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) boarded buses for Camp Eustis, Va. There, they will go through final processing before splitting up for missions in Kuwait, Djibouti, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.
"We don't know the future operations, but if we are needed for any operations, we're there," said Lt. Col. William Lawrence.
The unit consists mainly of officers in their 30s who will work on their own or in small teams as liaisons between combat commanders in the Middle East and private firms stateside to provide basic technical and logistic support for troops.
While LOGCAP soldiers typically engage in noncombat missions, yesterday they faced the same stress and last-minute burdens of any military deployment. Toddlers wandered teary-eyed at their parents' feet, and loved ones held extra-long hugs.
"I don't think anyone wants to go away, to leave their family, to leave their job," said Capt. Eric Stallmer, 31. "[But] I signed up for this. The Army's done a lot for me over the years. I look at this as my service to our country."
Capt. Stallmer, who stood in a meeting room yesterday with his wife, Amy, 27, said he feels confident in his unit and in the military forces that have left for the Middle East over the past month.
Asked if he has worried about the prospect of the United States attacking Iraq without United Nations support, Capt. Stallmer said: "It would be tough going it alone, but I think we're definitely capable."
Mrs. Stallmer, a recent graduate of Catholic University Law School, will stay in Alexandria while her husband is away. She said they have been "dealing" with the stress that hits any marriage during a deployment. "It changes everything," she said.
Others were overcome by worries of what lies ahead.
"I'm just worried about the whole conflict, about the conflict spreading," said Michelle Jeffress, 28, holding back tears as she stood by her boyfriend, Capt. Greg Pearly.
"I'm worried about him," said Ms. Jeffress, who works as a director of international programs for the Fund for American Studies in Washington, where she will stay while Capt. Pearly is away.
The LOGCAP unit, first activated in 1999, is composed entirely of Army Reserve soldiers from Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and the District. The 66-person unit 10 of whom already are on assignment overseas is tailored into flexible deployment groups to provide quick logical support to large and small military missions worldwide.
Several soldiers who shipped out yesterday had served their most recent deployment last year in East Timor, providing logistical support to U.N. peacekeeping units.
LOGCAP units typically attach to an Army command base, then work as liaison officers between the military and private contractors, providing everything from laundry services and baths to mailrooms and mess halls.
The units build temporary tent cities where Army divisions are stationed overseas.
"The LOGCAP units relieve commanders of time-consuming tasks so they can focus on the mission at hand," said Lt. Col. Virginia Ezell, a spokeswoman for the unit that deployed yesterday.

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