FORT IRWIN, Calif., - One of the biggest blows an enemy can inflict on U.S. Armed Forces is to hurt or kill an American commander.

"It's great propaganda for the enemy should one of [the command] get hurt," said 1st Lt. Alayham M. Al-Awaj, a platoon leader with the Regimental Personal Security Detachment, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

To reduce the threat, 3rd ACR developed a RPSD to protect their command element.

"We want to ensure they don't become targets of opportunity," Al-Awaj, a Lincoln, Neb., native said when referring to the regimental command element.

"You have to have senior leadership or there is chaos on the battlefield," said Sgt. 1st Class Tobby Bailey, a native of Greensburg Ky., RPSD, 3rd ACR platoon sergeant.

Four months ago, 3rd ACR started building up and training its RPSD, and now the element's strength has reached approximately 40 Soldiers plus the command element.

The main part of the command element consists of the regimental commander, the regimental command sergeant major and the regimental executive officer.

RPSD trains to provide 360-degree security wherever the command group travels, said Spc. Michael Dinwiddie, a gunner with RPSD, 3rd ACR.

"Wherever they go, we go," said Dinwiddie, a Kansas City, Mo., native.

Training started at their home base of Fort Hood, Texas, with firing ranges and specialty classes that focus on protecting the command group.

Now that they have moved out to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., they to continue to train and prepare for their upcoming deployment.

The focus for the RPSD at NTC will be to integrate the standard operating procedures they developed in garrison and put them to the test in real world combat simulations.

"This is our first opportunity to sit down with the command group as opposed to garrison operations to perfect our procedures prior to deployment," said Al-Awaj.

After NTC, they'll have a limited amount of time before their deployment, but the RPSD is still going to send Soldiers to the International Training Institute in Dilley, Texas, where they will receive additional training on the protection of the command group.

"I love all the training we get," said Dinwiddie. "If you're going to be working outside of your (military occupation specialty) this is the position to be in." Dinwiddie is an armored crewman by trade.

Al-Away said the RPSD is made up of six different military occupational specialties to include: armored crewman, cavalry scouts, combat engineers, health care specialists, wheeled mechanics and one systems support specialist.

The variety of skill sets allows the unit to handle most issues with equipment and personnel without help from outside the detachment.

"We are made to be a self-sustaining platoon," said Al-Awaj.

Soldiers weren't selected for their occupational capabilities alone but for prior experience and recommendations from leadership within 3rd ACR.

"You have to be hand picked to be a part of this," said Bailey. "It's an honor to be picked."

-30-

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16