Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Commandos start prepping to redeploy

Sgt. 1st Class Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) PAO
Multi-National Division – Center

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Redeployment is filled with happiness, a sense of pride and, of course, inspections.
In order to redeploy Soldiers must undergo a series of customs inspections to ensure nothing illegal is brought to the United States.
And to make sure nothing illegal is shipped to the United States, military policemen from the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., have been going through customs training with other 2nd BCT Soldiers on Camp Striker, Iraq.
“We are teaching them how to look for contraband, prohibited and restricted items,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hart, the 2nd BCT provost sergeant and native of Syracuse, N.Y.
Although customs training is typically an eight-hour block of classroom instruction, Hart decided it needed a little more to be truly effective.
“I added a hands-on portion to the class so the Soldiers can learn how to look for contraband,” Hart explained. “I don’t think any class is effective if it does not offer hands-on training – that is how people learn.”
The hands-on portion of the class introduced the students to common scenarios they may encounter during an inspection – typical hiding places for illegal items and having too many people in the inspection area at a time which could lead to the smuggling of items because of limited supervision.
“A common place for Soldiers to hide contraband or illegal items is in the pockets of their assault packs,” Hart said. “One year someone tried to smuggle a 9mm pistol, but he was caught.”
The training also showed Soldiers how to look at typical items with a different eye.
For instance, customs inspectors have to look inside a bottle of foot powder to make sure there is nothing illegal in there. And they have to look under boxes where items may be laying.
During one demonstration, a bomb sniffing dog came out and detected gun powder underneath a box. Using different types of dogs to detect illegal items is common during inspections.
“I learned that you have to check every possible crevice of all items,” said Sgt. Tuyen Nguyen, a signal noncommissioned officer with the 2nd BCT. “I wouldn’t have thought to look in some of the places for contraband. The class has taught me a lot.”
And although customs inspections may seem like a pain, there is a reason why they must be done.
“Inspecting items going into the United States from foreign countries allows us to protect our nation’s borders from threats,” Hart said.
The units will begin customs inspections this week in preparation for redeployment to Fort Drum.

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