By Staff Sgt. Garrett RalstonMarch 12, 2011
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The Theater Internment Facility on Camp Cropper is home to some of the most dangerous prisoners in Iraq's recent history. U.S. Forces are currently responsible for security of the compound, until Iraqi officials decide upon its future and those housed there.
For the last six months, the Soldiers of E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, have maintained what is for them, an unfamiliar security mission at the TIF, ensuring continued progress during Operation New Dawn.
"Our guys have adapted to a mission they really weren't prepared for," said 1st Lt. Sid McMath, a platoon leader with E "Eagle" Troop, and native of Little Rock, Ark. "So far, we have been tremendously successful both internally and externally."
The unit was initially moved to Camp Cropper to bolster security of the TIF after a security breach identified the need for a stronger force. The troop arrived and immediately began training to assume their new role.
Every Soldier who works inside the walls of the facility has had first to undergo a gauntlet of training before being certified. Soldiers trained with a wide array of non-lethal weaponry including employment of tasers, tear gas, and shotguns that fire "bean bag", or rubber rounds. Additionally, each Soldier must be subjected to the taser and pepper spray in order to be certified.
"Having to do the taser and the spray was one of the worst experiences ever," said Spc. Rasean Williams, a logistics specialist working in the TIF, originally from Flushing, N.Y.
The Soldiers work 12-hour shifts and man observation towers, catwalks, and assist in the movement of inmates throughout the compound. Members of the 40th Military Police Company from Fort Leavenworth, Kan., assist them in their daily duties.
"Currently we run two shifts, day and night, every day," said Spc. Matthew Jackson, an armor
crewman from Evansville, Ind. "The job is brutally monotonous so we fill the time with a lot of extra training to stay sharp on our skills."
The Soldiers working on each shift are divided up to man all the posts and to cover the Internal Reaction Force. The IRF is set up to quell mass noncompliance situations should they occur.
"My guys are trained to take actions based on escalation of force and conflict," said McMath. "Here its de-escalation we have to react to. We have to calm a situation before it gets out of our control."
Despite the unfamiliarity of the mission, McMath said, his men run the daunting mission, day in, and day out, without complaint.
"Because we're new to this we have developed a lot of our own tactics for the operation," said Matthews. "We've received a lot of praise for our duty here."
Still, the lone unit, separated from the rest of the regiment, that is further south, continues to execute their mission every day flawlessly and by their high standards.
"Knowing what a lot of these guys are in here for, and the destruction they've caused, makes you realize how vital our role here is," said McMath. "We make sure they stay here where they belong, so they cannot interfere with the stabilization efforts in this country."