Oregon Guardsmen provide force protection at entry control points

Story and Photos by Sgt. John Stimac
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq — The Soldiers of A Troop, 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) are keeping Victory Base Complex, Iraq, safe by manning the base's entry control points 24 hours a day.

ECP 13 is the busiest checkpoint on base, housing a badging office on site, as well as checking vehicles, personnel and military convoys moving on and off base.

Pfc. Alexander J. Miller, an armored infantry cavalry scout with A Troop, said he works both shifts at the checkpoint.

"The checkpoint has different tiers," said Miller, a Canby, Ore., native, "At each tier they go through different steps to be able to get on base."

Miller said the first point of contact with entering personnel is the initial stop sign.

"The signs are posted in both Arabic and English several times," he said. "If they do not stop, we have to use our escalation-of-force procedures."

Miller said his troop works hand-in-hand with the Ugandan soldiers at the ECP's.

"The Ugandans take their job very serious," he said. "I was very impressed at how hard they work, and I like working with them."

During the elections, it wasn't quite as busy, said Miller.

"The convoys weren't rolling out for a few days and there was a curfew issued in Baghdad from 12 a.m. until 6 a.m.," he said. "I'm sure it will pick up again after the election is over."

Sgt. Shawn R. Brooks, the sergeant of the guard at ECP 13 with A Troop, said he supervises the operation of the ECP, enforces policies and is there for whatever else the Soldiers might need of him.

"We get a lot of high-ranking officers that come through the checkpoint, and no matter who comes through, all policies must be enforced," he said. "So I am here to back up the junior-enlisted Soldiers as they enforce the policy."

Brooks said traffic is usually heavy at the ECP during the day. The nights can be interesting too, he said, like the time a man unsuccessfully tried to bring a monkey on base.

Miller said his troop has to remember and enforce a lot of rules and regulations while working on the ECP.

"It gets very stressful here, especially during the elections and certain religious holidays," he said.

Miller said the badging office can get busy as well.

"Sometimes we have 40 or 50 people waiting to go into the badging office, and it takes time to go through all the processes," he said. "Sometimes the people get very frustrated and agitated … so we have to be very careful when that situation comes up."

Miller said local nationals have to be X-rayed and pass a retinal eye scan before they enter VBC.

"After the scan is complete, the computer will tell if the person can proceed or not," he said.

Brooks said security measures were increased during the elections as a precaution, but nothing highly irregular was done.

"We have stepped our threat levels up," he said. "We will continue to hold this posture, stay flexible and provide force protection."

 

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Sgt. Mark Benson, a force protection noncommissioned officer at entry control point 13 with A Troop, 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditonary) and a La Crosse, Wis., native, scans the eyes of a local national March 8 before allowing him to enter Victory Base Complex, Iraq.

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Pfc. Alexander J. Miller, an armored infantry cavalry scout with A Troop, 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Canby, Ore., native, talks to an Iraqi child while his family member goes through the screening process March 8, at entry control point 13 at Victory Base Complex, Iraq.

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Pfc. Alexander J. Miller, an armored infantry cavalry scout with A Troop, 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Camby, Ore., native, shakes hands with a local national March 8, at entry control point 13 at Victory Base Complex, Iraq. All local nationals must pass through a tiered screening process before they are allowed to enter the base.