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Navy Reservists Mobilized to Continue Customs Inspection Mission

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS060214-12
Release Date: 2/14/2006 1:53:00 PM

By Lt. Karin R. Burzynski, Naval Expeditionary Logistics Support Force Public Affairs

WILLIAMSBURG, VA. (NNS) -- Approximately 445 Navy Reservists mobilized by the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG) began four weeks of intensive training in Williamsburg to fulfill a customs inspection mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Feb. 13.

The Reservists will relieve the Navy Customs Battalion “PAPA,” which is currently mobilized and fulfilling this mission in Kuwait and Iraq.

Customs inspectors are the first line of defense against the introduction of foreign plant and animal pests and diseases to the United States and help prevent contraband from entering this country. These Sailors, who are being drawn from more than 106 Navy Reserve operational support center across the U.S. representing 42 states and two U.S. territories, will serve as Department of Defense customs inspectors in Iraq and Kuwait.

"The customs inspection mission is a concrete example of maximizing the Navy's resources to meet the needs of this very unique and important requirement," said Vice Adm. John Cotton, Chief of the Navy Reserve.

As members of the newly formed "Navy Customs Battalion QUEBEC," they will execute a two-fold mission: ensure returning military equipment conforms to United States Department of Agriculture standards; and ensure all gear returning with personnel serving abroad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom complies with United States customs regulations.

Cmdr. Mark Failor of Ashburn, Va., a mobilized Reservist himself, will lead the newly formed battalion.

"Navy personnel will work directly for the Army to provide this combat service support mission," Failor said.

These Sailors will relieve the Navy’s second customs inspection battalion “PAPA,” Sailors who were mobilized in July 2005 to train to perform this mission.

The Reservists, who represent a diverse array of Navy job specialties, reported to their reserve centers on or about Feb. 6. From there they traveled to the Naval Mobilization Processing Site in Norfolk, Va., for mobilization briefings and medical screenings. Each reservist has orders for one year, with the possibility of an extension for an additional year.

The predeployment training will include: customs and agriculture inspection; weapons; chemical, biological and radiological defense; self and perimeter defense; non-tactical vehicle operation; and combat life saving and first aid. The training will take place at NAVELSG facilities in Williamsburg at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Cheatham Annex and at Army training sites in nearby Fort Eustis.

"When it comes to training, good enough will never be good enough. We have to always be better and the training cycle will continue even when these Sailors are deployed," Failor said. "We are committed to making sure that each Sailor receives the training he or she needs to meet, or exceed, the mission requirements," he added.

The Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group is an operational force of the Navy's newest type command, the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command. NAVELSG is to deliver expeditionary logistics capabilities with mobilization ready Navy Reserve Force Sailors and equipment to theater commanders in support of the national military strategy.

NAVELSG consists of a full-time and selective reserve support staff, Navy Cargo Handling Battalions, Navy Supply Support Battalions, an Expeditionary Logistics Response Center, and Naval Ordnance Reporting and Handling Battalion. The command supports more than 3,200 Navy Reservists located throughout the United States, encompassing over 90 percent of the U.S. Navy's Supply and Transportation Expeditionary Units.

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