18th MP Bde. PAO, MND-B
CAMP LIBERTY, IRAQ -Multi- National Division – Baghdad units go through months of training and preparation prior to deploying to ensure they are mission ready as their unit prepares themselves to take on the challenges of a combat mission.
In late July, the 8th Military Police Brigade, home stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, deployed to Iraq to complete its two-week Pre-Deployment Site Survey in support of its upcoming deployment.
The 18th Military Police Brigade, from Mannheim, Germany, was the 8th MP Bde.’s PDSS host. The 18th MP Bde. is currently here in Iraq and is coming toward the end of its 15-month deployment in the upcoming months.
“A PDSS is a good chance for the incoming unit to get out there and get eyes on and learn more about what the mission entails so they can go back and see what they need to do or readjust within their planning sessions to get ready for their deployment,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Lombardo, operations officer, 18th MP Bde., who is a native of Buffalo, N.Y.
During the PDSS, staff sections from the 18th MP Bde.’s command group, operations and logistics met with each other from the respective brigades and discussed how their counterparts managed their operations during the deployment. In the staff cross talks, staff officers explained how they performed their mission support, what areas within their expertise went well and defined areas that could use additional resources to support the units.
The PDSS gave the 8th MP Bde. an idea of what to expect in each brigade’s staff sections for their future deployment.
“The PDSS also helps the incoming brigade finalize their plans once they get eyes on the battlefield,” said Lombardo. “It helps them visualize and allows the commander and the operations section to figure out what they are going to do.”
Maj. Joe Decosta, the operations officer for the 8th MP Bde. and a native of Boston, said it helped him fill in the gaps so he can become more prepared to take on his role in the combat environment.
“Our PDSS will help us fill in gaps when during our analysis from what we see here,” said Decosta. “When we came here now, we can now visualize what the battlefield set is like so now when we go back (to Hawaii), we know what to adjust and what to replicate in training with what it looks like here in Iraq.
We will adjust what we are doing so we can fight the war when we deploy here,’ added Decosta.
A unique aspect that was learned through this site visit was giving the current unit an opportunity to provide the incoming unit guidance on what they thought worked well for them and what they thought did not work so well.
“This will be an opportunity for us to share what went well and what did not go well for us during our deployment for our incoming counterparts,” said Col. Mark Spindler, commander, 18th MP Bde., and a native of St. Louis.
The 18th MP Bde. command group section members said they felt the PDSS was a good experience to prepare the incoming brigade to come back and be ready to take command of the brigade’s headquarters MP mission while continuing Iraqi Police development.
“We are happy to be here,” said Col. Byron Freeman, commander, 8th MP Bde. “We need this is so we are ready to come back and take over when we hit the ground.”
The 18th MP Bde. mission in Iraq is to provide command and control capabilities over military Police Transition Teams assigned to the Multi-National Corps – Iraq. The brigade headquarters consists of approximately 100 Soldiers who perform their missions in Iraq that commands more than 5,000 MP Soldiers in theater.
A successful PDSS will lead to a successful transfer of authority of the MP mission in Iraq as the mission continues to move forward with providing Police Transition Team operations to the Iraqi police.
“This PDSS will set the conditions for a successful transfer of authority,” said Lombardo. “What we don’t want to do is give the mission to the 8th MP Bde. and for it to go backwards a couple steps during the transition.”
“We want the 8th MP Bde. to continue with were we left off and continue to build on what we accomplished here,” added Lombardo. “We are moving the Iraqi Police forward to primacy with regards to security through law enforcement.”
Part of the PTT mission in Iraq is to work alongside the IP in order to provide the citizens of Iraq with a better sense of security through the rule of law that the IP provide.
“We want to know how to do the job when we get on the job in Iraq,” said Freeman, referring to the preparations that his brigade must go through prior to their Iraq deployment.
The two brigades have been corresponding for months now in order to lay out the operational tempo for the incoming brigade so it is better prepared for what lies ahead. The PDSS now has provided them a visual of what has been begin discussed in earlier staff coordination opportunities.
“We had a good operational background on the mission before we arrived because we have been corresponding with the 18th MP Bde. for the past five months now,” said Decosta.
After the two weeks survey, the 8th MP Bde. Soldiers returned home to Hawaii with the additional data collected and learned.
“We got everything we needed and more from the PDSS,” said Freeman. “Now we will go back and prepare our Soldiers for their future mission by integrating the data collected during the PDSS and integrate the lessons learned into our upcoming training venues.”
By Sgt. Daniel Blottenberger