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Embarked Security Detachment 131 Prepares for Deployment

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050829-05
Release Date: 8/29/2005 12:11:00 PM

By Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Timothy Sosa, Fleet Imaging Command, Pacific

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (NNS) -- Nearly 100 Sailors from Embarked Security Detachment (ESD) 131 completed weapons qualifications Aug. 25 at Camp Pendleton as part of their training for an upcoming deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Reserve unit, which is based in San Antonio, will conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf.

MSO sets conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment and complements counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. The unit's role in MSO will be to protect Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships pulling in and out of Bahrain as part of Operation Vigilant Mariner.

“Our mission is to support the warfighter in Iraq by ensuring the 'beans and bullets' arrive,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael De La Cruz, officer in charge of ESD 131. “Protecting MSC ships is priority number one.”

This weapons training is part of a six-week program that’s preparing ESD 131 Sailors for a range of duties while deployed.

“When we get to the Gulf, we want our Sailors to be comfortable and proficient with not just their weapon, but with all weapons,” said Chief Master-at-Arms Samuel Chacon. “They need to trust these weapons, and the only way you can trust your weapon is to train and become familiar with it.”

ESD 131’s deployment cycle consists of three phases: training, deployment and then transitioning back into their civilian job. A bulk of the training is on weapons.

“This is definitely a learning experience,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Olisa Achonye. “It’s a whole different world as far as training goes. This training is important to know, though, because protecting the supply ships is an important part in winning the war in Iraq.”

ESD 131 trains 12 hours a day, six days a week, but even with the long hours, the unit’s Sailors are motivated.

“Today’s training was great,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Isabel Ramirez. “We raised our proficiency level, which is important, but we also had fun out here. We trained as a team, and that’s important [in order] to develop the trust that will be important when we deploy.”


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