By ERICA FAY
FORT POLK — A special ceremony was held Monday morning at Warrior Field on Fort Polk for soldiers from C Company, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, who will depart Thursday morning for Kazakhstan to participate in the "Steppe Eagle" exercise.
There were 141 soldiers who had the support from many family members in attendance as the ceremony began at Warrior Field.
These soldiers will be training with Kazakh forces as well as representatives from six other NATO countries for approximately 23 days in joint operations to improve the military relations with other NATO forces and to provide training situations that may be anticipated in combat.
"Steppe Eagle" has become an annual training exercise involving the Kazakh military and NATO forces that began 12 years ago.
This year's training exercises will be the first year that Team Wild Boar will be participating as an active duty combat team.
The soldiers will be culturally immersed in the area and will help train the Kazakh Army while fostering the growing relationship with the Kazakh, and other foreign armies. It is important for the participants to get acquainted with one another so they are better prepared to work together on the battlefield, so they better anticipate the forces on the field and be able to help one another in times of need.
Those leaving Thursday have been training for the deployment for the last four months, with their last month being intensive training in culture and tactics to get them ready for their mission.
Captain Shannon Reickert, Company Commander for Team Wild Boar, emphasized that the mission for C Company is that of cultural training and that they are on a general peace keeping training mission with other armies from NATO.
Most deployments are a year long and short training deployment exercises do not happen very often, according to Reickert.
Since being sent to Afghanistan in November, 2010 for Operation Enduring Freedom, this is the first overseas deployment of 2-30 Infantry.
"This is an exciting opportunity for this Battalion and Company," Reickert said.
Kazakhstan, located in central Asia and Europe, is the ninth largest country in the world by land area, neighbored to the north by both Russia and China.