Sustainment brigades train, prepare for transition
Story and photo by Spc. John Stimac
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq — As the 16th Sustainment Brigade, out of Bamberg, Germany, prepares to re-deploy, the mission of the personal security detachment continues.
Members of the 16th PSD are training the 15th Sustainment Brigade PSD, out of Fort Hood, Texas, to take the reins and prepare them for their first mission.
Staff Sgt. Michael Shaw, a PSD team member with the 16th Sustainment Brigade, and a Kennelon, N.J., native, said the 16th PSD is teaching the 15th PSD everything from battlefield drills with Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, to maintenance on those vehicles.
“The main thing is, we don’t want them to be afraid to ask questions,” said Shaw. “Whether you’ve been deployed before or not, the person next to you may be thinking the same thing but is afraid to ask.”
The team has conducted training for more than a week on various scenarios and drills that will help the new PSD adapt and be proficient in their mission.
“We’ve went over all the battlefield drills, vehicle injuries, vehicle recovery, radio communications and weapons training to include crew served and individual weapons,” said Shaw.
Shaw said the Iraqi security agreement that took effect Jan. 1 has made it possible for service members to travel more safely through cities. The 16th Sust. Bde. incorporated the new policies into its training for the Soldiers of the 15th Sust. Bde. PSD.
“The escorts and the missions are a little different now; we now have the signs posted in Arabic on the side of the MRAP that state the applicable part of the security agreement which enables us to travel through the cities,” said Shaw.
Sgt. Nicholas Nipitella, a PSD team member with the 16th Sust. Bde., said the units also focused on safety in their training.
“This has been a big thing lately,” said Nipitella. “There have been cases of Soldiers recently losing their eyesight because they got flagged with lasers.”
Nipitella, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, said leadership is the key to success in training or conducting a mission.
“Active leaders help engagement,” said Nipitella. “You have to be engaged, hands-on with your Soldiers.”
Spc. Thomas Winkfield, a PSD gunner with the 15th, said the training was very beneficial.
“With the training we received, I feel very confident,” said Winkfield. “Practice makes perfect; the more drills we do, the more proficient we will become.”
Winkfield, a Woodland, Calif., native, said the 16th gave his unit a lot of tips.
“They have given us unlimited access to training and whatever resources they have to make sure we complete our mission,” said Winkfield.
Shaw said he wishes nothing but success for the 15th Sust. Bde., and that all Soldiers come home safely.
“They received a lot of training but, no matter how much training they get, there are no experiences like real-world experience,” said Shaw.
Nipitella said most of his knowledge gained during the deployment came primarily from experience.
“We gave them the foundation of what they need to do,” said Nipitella. “Now they need to be active and engage in the training they received.”