CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq - An end of mission ceremony for 203rd Military Police Battalion June 6 marked the end of more than ten months of operations in southern Iraq.The Alabama National Guard's headquarters and headquarters detachment (HHD), with a home base in Athens, Ala., furled and cased its unit colors during a morning event in preparation to redeploy after the unit's first Operation Iraqi Freedom mission.The event featured six guest speakers, including Brig. Gen Donald Currier, 49th MP Brigade commander and Staff Maj. Gen. Addel, Basra chief of police.Master of ceremonies, Capt. Patrick Martel, 203rd personnel officer, opened the event by reading the unit's accomplishments during this deployment, which includes commanding nine MP companies in over 3,000 missions while partnering with the Basra Provincial Headquarters, District Directorate Headquarters, and United Kingdom civilian police.Capt. Brad Priest, 203rd HHD commander, said the Soldiers could be proud of what they had accomplished.
"When you go home, and friends and Family ask you what you did (in Iraq), you can tell them that you stood as a wall of democracy and helped the nation of Iraq become stronger," said Priest. "You helped give a voice to the people of Iraq through the elections and beyond."The 203rd MP Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Charles Buxton, said he was grateful for his Soldiers and their loved ones.
"To the Soldiers of the (203rd) HHD, 206th and 354th MP Companies, thank you for your focus on the mission and dedication to duty," Buxton said. "I also thank you and your families for the sacrifices made over the course of this past year."Col. Steven Bullimore, 17th Fires Brigade commander and operational commander of the MP units, commended the MPs."I can't think of another unit serving in this brigade and in (United States Division-South) that should be more proud of their accomplishments over this tour," Bullimore said. "You were the most exposed; you were in the greatest danger, because of where you had to go to do business.""(The MP units) were the force in contact; you restored order to chaos that I don't think many of you will understand."Brig. Gen. Donald J. Currier, 49th MP Bde. commander, said the MPs accomplishments fit into the overall strategic vision for Iraq."We've made steady progress toward police primacy, and we've done that not just by tactical training, but developing relationships with the Iraqi Police, and helping them sharpen their leadership skills, in large part, because of your contributions," Currier said.Staff Maj. Gen. Addel, the Basra chief of police said the strong relationship with the 203rd MPs has already paid dividends."We were like a large family against the enemy as we worked together to make Basra the best city in all of Iraq," Addel said. During the drawdown of US Forces, 203rd is the first MP battalion to redeploy from Iraq without a replacement.(Sgt. Kenneth Bince is assigned to the 49th MP Brigade)