US military, Kuwaiti police unite against danger on roads
March 6, 2013
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait -- For some, traveling on the barren roads near Camp Buehring, Kuwait, is an opportunity to test the limits.
In that moment, they may feel a sense of rebellion. Their adrenaline rising with their speed as they soar over speed bumps, drift around corners, and race through the desert.
Unfortunately, their need for speed often ends in sirens, hopefully followed by a ticket or warning rather than a trip to the hospital.
It is exactly the hope and purpose of the U.S. and Kuwaiti police team supporting 'Operation Roadrunner', to use its union of forces, experiences and cultures to combat those dangers on the roads of Kuwait.
"Operation Roadrunner is a joint traffic-enforcement between (military police supporting Area Support Group-Kuwait) and the Kuwait Ministry of Interior police," said Sgt. 1st Class Trevor J. Brandenburg, operations noncommissioned officer for the 79th Military Police Company, who has been with the operation since its beginning in Oct. 2012. "It started off because we saw a need to make sure everyone was operating their vehicles in a safe manner on the (Alternate Supply Routes) in northern Kuwait."
The operation comes at a time when Kuwait averages 206 traffic accidents a day, mainly due to traveling at speeds over 170 kph (about 100 mph).
"Our part is getting in front of the problem," said Spc. Andrew Romonsky, a military police officer with 79th MP Company, which is a reserve unit out of Rochester, Minn.
They've worked toward that goal by teaming up for patrols, responding to accidents and combining their efforts.
"The most important thing is to help people, not just to give tickets," said Lt. Col. Naji O. Al-Rashidi, chief of police for the traffic department of Jahra District. "Before, people didn't really care about the traffic speed. Now, because they see us there, they are aware that they must follow the traffic speeds."
It was a success that wasn't achieved without challenges for both police forces.
"At first it was very difficult for us to understand each other," Romonsky said, referring to language barriers they faced. "But I've learned that pretty much any obstacle can be overcome."
Police of KMOI and Jahra District from Kuwait along with the MPs of ASG-KU and 79th MP Company were able to make Operation Roadrunner more successful by picking up a mix of English and Arabic.
"It's a part of that partnership," said Capt. Samuel A. Arnett, provost marshal, ASG-KU northern camps, who made it a point to learn as much Arabic as possible for the operation. "The more we can communicate with our partners the stronger and better our relationship will be."
It's not just business for the team, whose members often come together socially to reinforce their union.
"A lot of times you see uniforms but you don't see people," said Brandenburg, who enjoyed several cookouts and events with Kuwaiti partners where they've traded food, games and traditions. "This really improves that relationship because it puts names to faces for both us and the Kuwaitis."
During a visit the MPs took to the Jahra District police department, Al-Rashidi proudly held a photo of the Operation Roadrunner team given to him by Arnett.
"We want you to feel like this is your home away from home," he said to the MPs, adding that he looked forward to more visits with them.
Because of their bond, the team is not distinguished by their differences in backgrounds, languages and uniforms; instead they are unified by friendship and a common goal of making Kuwait a safer place to travel.