NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors with Navy Customs Battalion Romeo boarded chartered flights here Sept. 8 and Sept. 10 to begin the next step of their mobilization: deployment to the Middle East.
The 450 Navy Reservists of Navy Customs Battalion Romeo, which was mobilized, trained, equipped and deployed by the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG), completed predeployment training in Williamsburg, Va., last week. They will conduct customs inspections at several locations in Kuwait and Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The first flight departed Sept. 8 with approximately 130 Sailors. Rear Adm. (sel.) John Messerschmidt, reserve deputy chief of staff, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, joined NAVELSG headquarters staff members to wish them a fond farewell.
"I wouldn't have missed this for the world," Messerschmidt said. Twenty percent of Navy Customs Battalion Romeo are volunteers from the Navy Reserve Submarine Force.
The Sailors will serve as Department of Defense customs inspectors at sea and air ports of debarkation sites. As inspectors, they will ensure returning military equipment conforms to U.S. Department of Agriculture standards. Additionally, they will ensure all gear returning with personnel serving abroad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom complies with United States customs regulations for re-entry into the United States.
Navy personnel will work directly for the Army to provide this critical combat service support mission. As part of a scheduled force rotation, the Sailors will relieve Navy Customs Battalion Quebec, which is currently performing the mission.
NAVELSG is an operational force under the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), which stood up in January and also includes Naval Coastal Warfare, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Naval Construction Forces Command.
NECC integrates all warfighting requirements for expeditionary combat and combat support elements. This transformation allows for standardized training, manning and equipping of Sailors who will participate in the global war on terror as part of the joint force. It also results in more capable, responsive and effective expeditionary Sailors.
For related news, visit the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/nelsf/.