By Spc. Natalie Sampson, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Public AffairsDecember 17, 2009
CAMP BULLIS, Texas -- The initial deployment rehearsal exercise for the 201st Military Intelligence (MI) Battalion was conducted here at the Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) Detention Training Facility (IDTF) and encampment area Dec. 7-11.
The purpose of the exercise was to validate the battalion's readiness before deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010. As the third in a series of exercises, it was a continuation of previous battalion- and company-level exercises conducted in October and November that integrated line companies in order to operate successfully as a Joint Intelligence Debriefing Center (JIDC).
The exercise started with an information technology rehearsal to ensure that all computer information and communications systems were working properly and culminated with the Mission Readiness Evaluation (MRE) -- validation of the unit's training preparedness by 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Commander Col. James Lee and a briefing with INSCOM Commander Brig.Gen. Mary Legere.
The MRE validates battalion readiness and the physical infrastructure aspects of the IDTF in order to operate as a JIDC while deployed.
"It is constructed for us to use live intelligence information from theater to train our interrogators, our [intelligence] analysts and our support personnel; to be able to conduct operations as a JIDC down range," said Maj. Jason Liddell, 201st MI Battalion executive officer.
During this exercise many real-world scenarios were simulated. Actual Afghan citizens, contracted from across the United States, were embedded to play the roles of detainees or interpreters in order to enhance interrogators' experience in dealing with the Afghan language, culture, religion and customs.
"It's a level of realism that you just can't have without having those support personnel as role players available," said Maj. Ira Smith, 201st MI Battalion S-5 (plans officer). "They play a very important part. This capstone event is pretty realistic as far as what we hope to see on the ground in Afghanistan. We're trained and ready to do our job; we're looking forward to it, really."
This exercise also integrated other interesting segments of the battalion essential to achieving successful intelligence operations. The Interrogation Control Element (ICE) determined which detainees were most valuable to the plans for interrogation while the Document and Media Exploitation team acted as the "scientists," analyzing any exploitable materials using real-world databases, to help interrogators build their case.
Also participating in this exercise were observer controllers from the U.S. Army Intelligence Center school for professional training of military intelligence personnel at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Instructors provided mentorship and feedback at a daily "hot-wash" - meeting to assess what they observed -- in order to improve procedures.
The personnel and security sections of the battalion staff keep Soldiers' personnel actions up to speed and ensure information security and force protection.
"I am mentally and physically ready," said Pfc. Amanda Rajkumar, a human resources specialist, who volunteered to deploy with the unit. She said morale and relationships are very supportive in her section. "[Leadership] is always approachable, and if I need help, even those who don't work in my section will come to help out," said Rajkumar.
A few miles away, at the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (CCACTF), a group of Soldiers and civilians engaged in a Mobile Interrogation Team (MIT) exercise. A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flew the MIT in two chalks of passengers to a secluded area to practice interrogating detainees in a remote location. Before arriving at this location, the MIT received a pre-flight brief, and after arriving at the interrogation site, simulated interrogating detainees inside a facility with limited resources.
"We may have to send out teams like this in Afghanistan," said Sgt. 1st Class Dana Anderson, noncommissioned officer in charge of the battalion's operations section. "This exercise sets the standard for what communications, video and audio equipment we need to bring." It also gave them insight into how to sustain themselves in an environment away from the core unit for days at a time.
The MIT team ended their event with an airlift back to the IDTF.