By Sgt. Alexander Burnett, Fort BlissDecember 2, 2008
FORT BLISS, Texas--Fort Bliss goes through great lengths to ensure the safety of its Soldiers. From the free rides home with Sun City Cab Company to the chain of command offering a way home no matter what time and no matter where, the Soldiers know they will always have a way to come safely back to Fort Bliss if they have had too much to drink. However, how does the community know'
First Sergeants and Sergeants Major from the battalions of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade conducted the first iteration of Operation Imperial Presence.
The goal of this operation is to have the leadership in the "Imperial" Brigade conduct courtesy patrols in the city of El Paso so as to provide unit leadership presence in areas of interest. This is to stay any Soldier transgressions and increase safety awareness.
The teams from each battalion participated in this operation by going around to the bars and clubs in El Paso to hand out the "Safe Ride" cards and inform the management of each establishment that the command group is taking care of its Soldiers and the community.
"This is a great way to build a relationship with the community," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jesus Degracia, command sergeant major of 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery. "Our Soldiers go into these clubs, have fun, and the owners know that these Soldiers have a way to be taken care of."
The teams were broken down by battalion and each battalion had a section of El Paso to cover. Each group had approximately 10 bars to visit and make contact with.
"This operation was also an opportunity for us to 'train the trainers,'" said Sgt. Maj. Albert Van Story, the 11th ADA Bde. operations sergeant major.
In the future, the individual battalions and their batteries will be responsible for conduction their own presence operations in a given area of El Paso. The command will require each group to conduct at least one patrol a month, said Van Story.
After the individual groups returned from their "night on the town" it came time to analyze the mission.
"This was definitely a success," said Van Story. "The owners and managers were very receptive to us and very willing to cooperate... the Soldiers understand the need for this kind of mission."