FORT BLISS, Texas (NNS) -- Sailors from B Company, Navy Provisional Detainee Battalion (NPDB) deployed to Iraq on April 22 where they will help run a detainee facility.
NPDB is comprised of about 200 air, surface and ground Sailors from different commands throughout the United States. Prior to leaving for their detainee mission in Iraq, the Sailors underwent more than two months of pre-deployment training from Task Force (TF) Outlaw at Fort Bliss.
The NPDB and other units tasked to perform detainee operations in theater, are trained on the most current procedures during their pre-deployment training. This is possible with the recent combat experience from veterans returning from theater who become observer-controller/trainers for the Operational Warrior Trainer (OWT) program under the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, First Army. TF Outlaw, one of four task forces under the OWT, conducts detainee operations training.
Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Lindsey Byers said being trained by individuals who are recent combat veterans gave her useful insight and better prepared her for the mission in theater.
"It helps a lot because it gives you something to go off, not training that was based off something that happened 10 years ago," Byers said. "It's the most recent training so that when we get over there we actually have an idea of what's going on."
Army Col. Scott Marquardt, commander of Mobilization and Deployment Brigade (MAD Bde.), said the MAD Bde. has mobilized and deployed thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen. They provide service support, and command and control for units that conduct their pre-deployment training at Fort Bliss. The training units receive is conducted by the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, 1st Army.
The Sailors expressed confidence in being able to execute their mission effectively in theater.
Aviation Boatswain's Mate Handling 1st Class Todd St. Clair said he was appreciative and content with the training he received at Fort Bliss. He said he was surprised when he found out his mission in theater would be detainee operations. But after completing the training, he feels secure about performing his assigned mission.
"I was pretty surprised," said St. Clair. "It's something new for the whole Navy, supporting the Army. Detainee ops is kind of a new mission for the Navy."
St. Clair said his training included working in a simulated detainee facility where they reacted to different scenarios that could result in theater.
"We were preparing ourselves for Iraq," said St. Clair. "We trained [on] detainee ops, convoy ops, medical and how to work as a group to operate a detainee facility."
"I'm ready to go," said Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Shelby Ploeger. "I was a little nervous, but once we started getting all the right training, I was ready to go."
These deploying Sailors are part of the current force structure requirements said Marquardt. Over the last eight months, he added, more Sailors and Airmen have been mobilized and undergone pre-deployment through the MAD and 402nd brigades than have Army Soldiers.
Fort Bliss is one of four joint mobilization stations.
"Our sister services, the Air Force and the Navy, have stepped up to the plate," Marquardt said. "One of the first things we tell them when they first hit the ground is we recognize you are the best Air Force and Navy in the world, now let the best Army in the world share with you our core competencies for the mission that you're undertaking as you go forward into theater."
Family members were not on hand during the departure, but Army Brig. Gen. Francis Mahon, Commanding General, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command and Marquardt were present to bid the Sailors farewell. Mahon told the deploying Sailors that their families and the nation recognize their service and sacrifice.
"The American people are proud of you," said Mahon. "You may not realize that, until you get back and run into a few of them and they show their sincerity."
"We are doing today what we anticipate doing when we become fully operational and capable," said Marquardt. "It's been an interesting exchange of cultures; we've learned from them, they've learned from us. The bottom line is you saw an outstanding unit [of Sailors] getting on the plane today."
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