PSD: Not your everyday job
October 16, 2006
FOB PROSPERITY, Iraq (Army News Service, Oct. 16, 2006) - In the early morning hours, a Soldier awakens to the sound of his internal communications radio as a stern voice blaring over the radio instructs the leader to rally his men and be ready to move into southern Baghdad in less than 30 minutes.
Fifteen minutes later, approximately 14 combat-ready Soldiers line up their armored vehicles with weapons ready and mounted atop their steel turrets. The Soldiers stand ready to greet the brigade commander before leaving the safe haven of a small forward operating base on the edge of the International Zone.
This is the life of the Soldiers who make up Personal Security Detachment teams of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in Baghdad.
The two 14-man teams provide safe and timely transportation for the brigade command team: Col. Michael Beech and Command Sgt. Maj. John Moody. The task requires a state of readiness 24-7.
"I couldn't do what I do without them," said Moody. "They take personal responsibility for taking me where we need to be, and when I get out of the vehicle, they are like those guys who take care of the president - secret service."
There isn't a day when the two teams - comprising infantrymen, cavalry scouts, tankers and military police - don't see the highways of the bustling Iraqi city, either out on patrol with units from the 4th BCT, or taking the command group to various meetings and ceremonies throughout central and southern Baghdad.
"The PSD team is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the (commander) and the command sergeant major for any and all missions and meetings within the Multi-National Division - Baghdad and 4th BCT area of operations," said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Cardona, PSD noncommissioned officer-in-charge, 4th BCT.
The Soldiers who make up the command PSD teams were selected four months before deploying last December, Cardona said. Unsure of how well the Soldiers would work together, he sent both teams through two weeks of initial training.
"From the day the PSD was created, it was kind of thrown together," said Cardona, a 15-year Army veteran from Alice, Texas. "All the Soldiers came from different units and backgrounds, so the training gave me early assessments on what they needed to improve on as a cohesive security unit."
Training included a two-week course that encompassed convoy escort procedures, protection tactics for principle dignitaries and security procedures when moving the command staff through a combat zone, added Cardona.
After the training, Cardona identified two leaders, who are now both designated team leaders for the two PSD teams: Staff Sgt. Bradley Hoy, an infantryman, from Llano, Texas, and Sgt. Jeffrey Rogers, a military policeman, from Buffalo, N.Y.
Both veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hoy and Rogers took comfortably to the leadership positions they were asked to fill.
"Truthfully, I don't think we could have done it without the leaders," he said. "They both stepped up into an unfamiliar position and have done a great job leading their Soldiers."
After four months of training, to include a three-week mission rehearsal exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, the two teams deployed with the rest of the brigade to Camp Buerhing, Kuwait, in late November 2005. So far the teams have completed about 550 successful missions.
When not traveling the streets of Baghdad, the teams can be found working on their Humvees in the motor pool. If a new armor upgrade is available, there is no question that it will be installed, said Spc. Alex Faiivae, a gunner for the commander's team.
"We have installed just about everything in terms of armor upgrades that is available. We have to have the highest amount of protection because we carry around the colonel and sergeant major - and they have to be safe," said Faiivae, a native of Woodridge, Va.
The Soldiers' schedules are sometimes so busy sleep is a low priority, but that doesn't discourage them, said Sgt. Gregory Thomson, a team leader on Moody's PSD.
"The way our young Soldiers have grown in to what they are today is amazing," said Thomson, a native of Oglesby, Ill. "When they are asked to do something, they get it done, and they are always focused on their mission. They have all grown into some great Soldiers."