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Force Protection Detachment conferences expand for 470th MI Brigade

Jan 11, 2010

By Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Future 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Force Protection Detachment conferences will take on added importance as they have grown to include more agents and agencies.

The brigade hosted the latest force protection detachment conference in downtown San Antonio Nov. 16 through 20. Army special agents from the brigade's seven FPDs traveled from their respective detachments within Central and South America and the Caribbean to attend this event.

"The brigade - as the executive agent for seven out of 13 FPDs in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility - held this conference during the previous three years as an Army-only event," said Edgardo Ortiz, FPD coordinator for the brigade.

"Due to the multi-service composition of these detachments and the agencies involved in supporting the FPD Program, it was just a matter of time for the conference to expand to include its sister services and other FPD-associated agencies."

Also in attendance were representatives from the Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center, U.S. Army Counterintelligence Coordinating Authority, U.S. Army FPD Program Manager, SOUTHCOM J-2 Counterintelligence Staff Officer, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, U.S. Army South G2-X, U.S. Army North G2X, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the Army Reserve Operations Activity.

"The intent of brigade commander Col. Jim Lee for this conference was to provide an interservice/agency forum to review and discuss FPD operational capabilities, to identify operational and support shortfalls and to share best practices among FPDs that can be leveraged to improve counterintelligence support to Force Protection to DoD in-transit forces in the SOUTHCOM AOR," Ortiz explained. "This venue also provided an opportunity to set the framework for this event to transform into an 'Annual Western Hemisphere FPD Conference' to be held in advance of the Worldwide FPD Conference.

"In terms of Force Protection, FPDs are 'force multipliers' for embassy country teams and, as such, future conferences will include U.S. embassy senior defense officials, regional security officers or their designated representatives to provide their perspectives as it relates to FPD operations and support in their respective countries," Ortiz added.

The latest conference also presented an opportunity to provide advanced skills training that normally cannot be conducted due to geographical locations of special agents.

The main event was a four-day custom-tailored concealed weapons course that took place at the Law Enforcement Range on Camp Bullis. In coordination with Department of Defense tactical procedures and guidance, Sgt. Maj. Robert Suttner, brigade S3 (Operations and Training) sergeant major, developed a course of fire to provide the special agents with the skills necessary to protect themselves in permissive operating environments while carrying concealed firearms.

The training focused on fundamentals, movement and target acquisition, while continuously exercising advanced tactics. Agents not only used handguns but also trained with M-4 carbines.

"This training is essential for personnel who are located in high threat-countries in South America," Ortiz said. "In total, eight agents met the strict qualification standards that were developed to facilitate concealed carry at embassies across Latin America. This concealed weapons training is currently being looked upon by the FPD program manager as a model for all Army special agents currently assigned to an FPD."

In addition, analysts from the brigade's Analysis and Control Element also benefitted from this conference. They had the opportunity to meet with the agents in a roundtable setting to discuss current intelligence, trends in the AOR, and analytical support to CI support to force protection operations.

"In all it was a very productive conference that enhanced the capability to support forward-deployed elements and the ability to provide timely, accurate and responsive CI support to force protection," said Ortiz.

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