First interrogation battalion activates at Fort Sam Houston
Pfc. Jonathan Harris, 201st Military Intelligence Battalion, 470th MI Brigade, holds the colors during the 201st activation ceremony held April 12 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Army News Service, April 17, 2006) - The Army's first joint interrogation and debriefing battalion stood up April 12 during a ceremony at MacArthur Parade Field at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.<br/><br/>The 201st Military Intelligence Battalion is the first of four joint interrogation battalions - two active and two reserve - to be activated in the next several years. Its mission is to conduct detainee screening and interrogation missions in support of such military operations as Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.<br/><br/>"Being the first dedicated interrogation battalion in the Army, the spotlight is on these fine Soldiers and their leadership," said Col. Richard Saddler, commander of the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade and guest speaker at the ceremony. "Fortunately, they are the finest our nation has to offer, and they will do well in their upcoming missions."<br/><br/>New unit specializes in interrogation<br/><br/>The 201st MI Bn. comprises 147 active duty Soldiers, all specializing in interrogation and intelligence.<br/><br/>The concept for the battalions came about, in part, as a result of a 2004 investigation led by Maj. Gen. George Fay into the Abu Ghraib abuse of detainees.<br/><br/>"The Department of the Army, based on the Fay report and other weaknesses in how we conducted intelligence operations, recognized the need for dedicated interrogation battalions," Saddler said.<br/><br/>Previously, Soldiers assigned to smaller elements embedded in units throughout the world instead of consolidated into "highly trained units."<br/><br/>"The Army needed the command and control a battalion structure can provide," explained Lt. Col. John Strycula, battalion commander, who previously served as chief of G2 operations for U.S. Army, Europe, and 7th Army in Heidelberg, Germany.<br/><br/>While the Army will retain oversight and provide the manpower in theater, the battalion can plug in other services and agencies as needed, Strycula said.<br/><br/>"We can bring on Air Force, Marines, Navy, whatever the mission calls for," he said.<br/><br/>Strycula said he is looking forward to the challenge of commanding the first-of-its-kind battalion.<br/><br/>"I'm honored and excited about commanding this battalion," Strycula said. "There's a lot to do but this battalion will not fail.<br/><br/>"This battalion will succeed because of the competency, motivation and professionalism of the Soldiers you see standing before you," he added. "They are that impressive and I am honored to serve with them."<br/><br/>Plans for a new joint training center at nearby Camp Bullis are also in the works.<br/><br/>"This interrogation center of excellence will feature a (major training) event that all interrogation units will rotate through to ensure they are battle ready on all interrogation and warrior tasks before they go to war," Saddler said.<br/><br/>A timeline hasn't been set, but Army leaders are taking the fast track on the initiative, Saddler added. "They are committed to improving capabilities, and doing it quickly."<br/><br/>(Editor's note: Elaine Wilson writes for the Fort Sam Houston Public Information Office.)

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