March 24, 2010

229th MPs help protect Vice President Biden in Iraq

By Spc. Eddie Siguenza
49th Military Police Brigade

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq — Soldiers from the 229th Military Police Company stepped away from normal Operation Iraqi Freedom duties to perform a bigger task: Provide route security here for the United States’ second-in-charge.

  229th MP Company

Soldiers from the 229th Military Police Company, Virginia Army National Guard, use a map to designate security areas for the arrival of Vice-President Joe Biden Jan. 23 at Camp Liberty, Baghdad, Iraq. The 229th manned traffic control points and led Biden’s convoy to a dining area on Camp Liberty. The vice president arrived in Baghdad to meet with Iraqi leaders. Shown are: Staff Sgt. Kevin Foxwell, Staff Sgt. Ronald White, 1st Lt. Jason Meador, Sgt. David Dick, Sgt. Robert Dyer and 1st Lt. Cari Kelso. (Photo by Spc. Eddie Siguenza, 49th Military Police Brigade)

More than 150 of the Virginia-based Soldiers monitored traffic intersections and designated points on a route Vice President Biden drove through during a brief stop on Jan. 23. Biden and his entourage that included Gen. Ray Odierno, United States Forces – Iraq commanding general, arrived via military helicopters and were convoyed to a nearby dining facility to visit troops. The 229th staged Soldiers throughout Victory Base Complex (VBC), an operating base covering about 35 square miles.

“When the garrison command was given the mission to provide security and route clearance for the vice president’s visit, I specifically asked for the 229th MP Company from the 49th Military Police Brigade to support that,” said Lt. Col. William Prestage, force protection and anti-terrorism officer for VBC Garrison Command. “We’ve used them before for other missions. I knew the officers and noncommissioned officers can do the job.”

The norm for the 229th is police transition team (PTT) missions, where Soldiers work with Iraqi Policemen. They train Iraqis in various skills. But the 229th also performs humanitarian missions, says 1st Lt. Jason Meador, a platoon leader. Biden was in Iraqi meeting with key leaders.

According to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the vice president met with top officials “to discuss U.S. and international efforts to support Iraq, with a focus on the national elections scheduled for March.”

When Biden arrived, a 229th element led the convoy that took the vice president to dinner. All remaining 229th teams stationed across VBC re-directed traffic – and kept outsiders away from the main convoy -- until Biden was safely escorted off the compound.

The 229th arrived in Iraq in October. The Virginia Army National Guard unit is based in Virginia Beach.

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