JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The 42nd Military Police Brigade's Headquarters and Headquarters Company cased its colors Jan. 4 in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.

The 120-member company will be joining units from three other brigades in the Bagram area to conduct detainee operations. The Joint-Base Lewis McChord-based brigade headquarters will also be pairing with an Afghan unit to train and support a similar unit to take over.

"The goal of all coalition forces is to eventually transition everything to their Afghan counterparts," Col. Robert M. Taradash, 42nd MP Bde. commander, said at the deployment ceremony on Watkins Field.

Top leaders from the HHC will align with individual counterparts as well. Command Sgt. Maj. Dawn Rippelmeyer met hers in July during a predeployment site survey.

"That personal relationship you develop is really important to getting training across," she said.
Rippelmeyer was previously paired with a local counterpart while training police in Iraq, and she says the system works.

"You could really see a development in their abilities," she said.

For her the primary challenge will be providing professional custody and control to detainees. She was last in Bagram in 2005, and though an improved detention center opened in 2009, she will still face prisoners who know the system -- and know exactly how to get under Soldiers' skin.

"We deal with detainees who are there, many of whom have been there for a while," Rippelmeyer said.

Taradash anticipates a challenging and rewarding mission, especially considering the Afghan buy-in and the opportunity to jointly achieve something great.

"We're going to collectively help further a cause and a mission," he said.

Marisa Petrich: marisa.petrich@nwguardian.com