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Navy Customs Battalion TANGO Deploys

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071001-23
Release Date: 10/1/2007 5:42:00 PM

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Dave Nagle, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- About 450 Sailors with Navy Customs Battalion (NCB) TANGO deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

The Sailors of NCB TANGO were mobilized by the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG) in August and will perform customs inspection missions in Kuwait and Iraq.

According to TANGO’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Mark Q. Schwartzel, TANGO’s reservists hail from more than 90 Navy Operational Support Centers in 36 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.

All the Sailors trained together and completed four weeks of predeployment training at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Cheatham Annex and nearby bases. This training includes 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.

“TANGO is certified as customs clearance border agents, trained in homeland security customs and sanctioned by the Department of Agriculture,” said Schwartzel.

“Our job will be to perform customs inspections for returning service members before leaving the theater, so they don’t have to do it stateside and can go straight to their families when they return home,” added Hull Technician 3rd Class Leah Delamarter.

Schwartzel said that TANGO completed training ahead of schedule with no mishaps. One-hundred percent of the battalion qualified on the M-9 pistol and 97.5 percent qualified on the M-16 rifle.

“We’ve received the right training at the right time and I’m confident we’re ready to go do this mission,” Schwartzel said -- a sentiment shared by the entire battalion.

“I’ve learned a lot of new information during our training, certainly things that are outside my rate, but I’ve enjoyed it,” said Delamarter, who is making her first deployment. “It’s hard to leave family, but I’m excited and ready to go.”

Key to TANGO’s success has been an emphasis on deckplate leadership.

“We have 45 chiefs, senior chiefs and master chiefs in our chiefs' mess whose main purpose is to take care of our Sailors, keep them motivated and identify and take care of issues early on,” said Command Master Chief (SW) Ollan Burruss. “We also stress small-team leadership and a lot of credit goes to our first and second class petty officers as well.”

Burruss added that the battalion’s morale and camaraderie has been “awesome” considering the short time they’ve been together.

“These Sailors have come together from all over the country to successfully train for a mission we’ve never done before,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better team of Sailors.”

TANGO is the sixth rotation of Navy reservists mobilized to active duty and trained to serve as customs inspectors in support of OIF. The Navy’s first-ever customs inspection battalion, deployed in January 2005.

NAVELSG is organized and staffed 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 is an operational force of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, a global force provider of adaptive force packages of expeditionary capabilities to joint warfighting commanders.

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