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NPDB 3 Begins Mission in Bucca, NPDB 2 Remains

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070509-20
Release Date: 5/9/2007 5:44:00 PM


By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Jon McMillan, Task Force 134 Public Affairs

CAMB BUCCA, Iraq (NNS) -- The last major group of more than 400 Sailors assigned to Navy Provisional Detainee Battalion (NPDB) 3 arrived here May 8 to begin their tour at the largest Theater Internment Facility in Iraq.

NPDB 2, consisting of another 400 Sailors, remains here on a 90-day extension to support an anticipated surge of security detainees as the Iraq Security Plan intensifies this summer. Slated to depart Iraq this month, NPDB 2 is scheduled to continue their mission until late August.

"Our Sailors provide an experienced, well-trained, quality force that is prepared to handle an increase in security detainees at Bucca. As the detainee population increases, it's important to have the right people performing their duties at the right place," said Cmdr. Kathyrn Donovan, commanding officer of NPDB 2. "Although our Sailors would prefer to be heading home, they understand they are needed here to help ensure a seamless transition with their relief battalion and concurrently maintain the high standards of care and custody in place at Bucca."

Theater Internment Facilities in Iraq are used by the Multi-National Forces to detain individuals determined to be threats to coalition forces, Iraqi Security Forces and to the stability of Iraq. Approximately 20,000 security detainees are held at two Theater Internment Facilities in Iraq, with more than 15,000 being held at Camp Bucca.

NPDB 2 Sailors are turning over their assigned detention compounds to NPDB 3 Sailors. NPDB 2 Sailors will be expected to secure new compounds currently being built to handle a possible increase in the number of detainees at Bucca.

"I would love to go home,” said Machinist Mate 2nd Class Kinte Horton, an NPDB 2 Sailor from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, based in Norfolk. “However, as long as I'm here, the Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine next to me is better off.”

NPDB 3 leadership said the turnover between Navy battalions has been effective. “There’s no stateside training that can fully prepare you for detainee operations,” said Command Master Chief (SS/DV) Richard Rose, NPDB 3 command master chief, from the Trident Training Facility, Kings Bay, Georgia.

Rose said the best training has been the turnover with NPDB 2, the on-the-job training and off-duty training his Sailors are getting. “They’re learning a lot. One Sailor can write the Arabic alphabet now; another is studying about the Qur’an. A half-dozen or so are learning to speak and write Arabic to help them with their job. They’re adapting very well to the environment and are doing their jobs.”

Their job consists of providing care and custody to detainees – from ensuring 100 percent accountability counts to providing medical care as needed.

“There’s a learning curve, but our Sailors are catching up and they’re learning from the small problems that have come up. Things are going good – we’re fresh Sailors with fresh minds,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW) Omar Rodriguez, Compound 17’s Sergeant of the Guard, from the Center for Naval Leadership, Coronado, Ca. “We’re doing the mission and we’re doing it safely.”

Doing the job safely means each Sailor has to be vigilant for their entire 12-hour shift in the compound.

“It’s truly a team effort – they truly have each other’s back,” said Master Chief Aviation Ordnanceman (AW/SW) Michael Varela, NPDB 3 Alpha Company leading chief petty officer, from Commander, Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit, Jacksonville, Fla. “Their heads are on a swivel and they don’t let their guard down.”

The NPDB 2 and 3 Sailors are all Navy individual augmentees. NPDB 2 has Sailors from 254 parent commands worldwide and NPDB 3 has Sailors from 214 parent commands worldwide. Prior to deploying to Iraq, the Sailors received specialized training at Fort Bliss, Texas which included Army combat skills, combat lifesaver, convoy operations, close-quarter fighting and detainee operations training.

“The Sailors of NPDB 3 received world class pre-deployment and detainee operation training at Fort Bliss. The battalion arrived in theater both eager and eminently able to immediately contribute to the success of the Multi-National Force,” said Cmdr. Jack Barnhill, commanding officer, Navy Provisional Detainee Battalion 3. “NPDB 3’s arrival in Camp Bucca infuses a heaping measure of professionalism and enthusiasm into a front line Coalition Force mission; specifically, vigilant accountability and humane treatment of detainees."

The two Navy battalions work inside the Theater Internment Facility with Soldiers from the Army’s 705th Military Police Battalion, a platoon from the 152nd Military Police Company and California National Guard’s Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment as well as Airmen from the Air Force’s 886th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron.

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