June 18, 2009

229th Military Police company prepares for upcoming Iraq mission

By Capt. Matt Nowak
Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — In preparation their upcoming deployment to Iraq, Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 229th Military Police Company are training in their core Army Warrior Tasks at Fort Pickett during annual training in June.

  229th Military Police Company

Soldiers from the 229th Military Police Company conduct IED-Defeat and awareness training June 18 at Fort Pickett. The purpose of the training is to heighten awareness of the possibility of IED's while driving for their upcoming mission to Iraq. (Photo by Capt. Matt Nowak, Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs)

The tasks include IED-Defeat training, Combat Life Saver Course, driver’s training and Small Unmanned Aircraft System or Raven Unmanned Aerial Vehicle training. Along with field training, Soldiers will go through a Soldier Readiness Program that includes administration functions with records reviews and mandatory briefs.

The purpose of the training is to reduce the amount of time spent at Fort Dix, N.J., the mobilization site where they will receive mission-specific training.

“All these tasks reinforce individual soldier skills for them to do their mission,” said Capt. David Sutton, the company commander. “They are the building blocks that lead to other, more complex and collective tasks.”

The training at Fort Pickett is more individually focused in getting Soldiers ready for the mobilization training at Fort Dix. The training also helps build upon the already strong unit cohesion.

“Soldiers are highly motivated,” exclaimed 1st Sgt. Thomas Fitchett, the company first sergeant. “The NCO leadership has been outstanding, making my job easier.”

The 229th Military Police Company will enter federal service on Aug. 2 and will have the mission of training Iraqi police forces.

  229th Militasry Police Company

A 229th Military Police Company Soldier scans the woodline for out of place objects during dismounted situational awareness training at Fort Pickett, June 18. The training is to enhance the situaiton awareness of the Soldiers surrounding environment while conducting a foot patrol. (Photo by Capt. Matt Nowak, Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs)

“The role of the U.S. military in Iraq is shifting away from combat operations to training and sustainment operations, and this is an important mission to help the Iraqis take the lead in providing their own safety and security,” Maj. Gen. Robert. B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia said. “The Soldiers and leaders of the 229th bring tremendous civilian and military police experience with them to the mission, and I am confident they are going to make a positive impact when the begin working in Iraq.”

A departure ceremony will take place Aug. 3 at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach. The Soldiers will then report to Fort Dix, N.J., to conduct mobilization training. The mobilization training is scheduled for August and September with expectations of a late September or early October arrival in Iraq. The mobilization is scheduled to last 12 months.

With approximately 150 Soldiers, the Virginia Beach based unit includes Soldiers from all over the state. Approximately 60 Soldiers are from the Hampton Roads area, about 20 are from the Richmond and Petersburg area, approximately 20 are from the Roanoke and Southwest Virginia area, about 10 are from the Northern Virginia area, and the other Soldiers are from various locations across the state.

The Virginia National Guard currently has about 650 Soldiers on active duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Even with the additional deployment of some 150 Soldiers in support of our federal mission, the Virginia National Guard is trained and ready to support the Commonwealth if called upon during a time of natural disaster or threat to our homeland security,” Newman said.

The mobilization orders for the 229th call for an active duty period not to exceed 400 days, but the Secretary of Defense can extend tours for operational needs not to exceed 24 months or 730 days.

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