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Area Guard unit preparing to deploy in wake of bin Laden's death

The death of Osama bin Laden could affect the South Dakota Army National Guard 200th Engineer Company of Chamberlain, Pierre and Mobridge, according to the state's top Guard official.

The death of Osama bin Laden could affect the South Dakota Army National Guard 200th Engineer Company of Chamberlain, Pierre and Mobridge, according to the state's top Guard official.

The group of nearly 200 soldiers will deploy as scheduled on May 15 to plan, build, monitor and disassemble bridges in Afghanistan.

"Bridges are targets for terrorism, strategic targets ... so if there's increased terror activity that comes as a consequence of this event, it could have an impact for this company," said Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch, adjutant general of the South Dakota National Guard.

Currently, South Dakota does not have many soldiers deployed, Reisch said Monday. The 200th Engineer Company will replace the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, which returned home Thursday. The 200th is the first of about a dozen South Dakota groups preparing to deploy between now and two years from now, Reisch said.

The 200th will be deployed for one year. The soldiers will not only assemble bridges, but plan the building of bridges, provide security for existing bridges and transport bridge components to and from sites while managing the bridge yards. The 200th is not new to deployment. Reisch said it was one of the first companies to be deployed at the start of the current Middle East conflicts 10 years ago.

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Reisch, a native of Howard, called the death of bin Laden a "significant event." Since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, South Dakota has deployed more than 5,000 soldiers and airmen, he said, impacting hundreds of families, relatives and employers.

"I think it's a big deal when an individual such as this, who we know has played a major role in the death of many Americans and from many countries -- we're not the only country that's been victimized by Osama bin Laden -- it's a significant event that we hope will help speed the end of this event," he said. "The likelihood of a quick end to all of these is low, but it'll take some air out of the terroristic movement."

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