By Sgt. 1st Class Pete Mayes, 101st Sustainment Brigade The Fort Campbell CourierJanuary 20, 2012
(FORT CAMPBELL, KY, January 20, 2012)--As he walked into one of the post shopettes dressed in an Army Multi-cami uniform, Lt. Col. David Thompson said he was told, "thank you" and "welcome home" from a few of the civilians there.
"They thought I had come home from a deployment," he said.
The fact was Thompson, commander of the 716th Military Police Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, was actually preparing to head out on deployment. He and the rest of his battalion headquarters staff left this week for their year-long tour to Afghanistan.
The battalion is typical of many of the units assigned to the "Lifeliners" brigade. As other brigades in the 101st Airborne Division deploy and return together entirely with dwell time in between deployments, the sustainment brigade constantly rotate in and out of theater in a support role to larger combat operations.
The battalion's role will be mentoring the Afghan Regional Police Command in Kabul. Instead of conducting foot patrols and being on the ground, theirs will be a more backseat approach, as they will advise the Afghan National Police staff on how to conduct their mission.
The mission falls in line with the military's mentorship approach, letting the Afghan officials take a lead role in their affairs as a pre-cursor to drawing down combat actions in Afghanistan.
"Our intent is to let [the Afghans] run their mission. We understand that they have their own ideas and they understand what works better in their culture," Thompson said.
This will be the first deployment for many of the Soldiers in the battalion to Afghanistan. Many were previously deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Thompson, who has deployed multiple times to Iraq, said he deployed to Afghanistan back in 2002 where he helped train his fellow MPs in detainee operations. Regardless of where you are, the basics of the MP job do not change, he said.
"It might be a different environment, but the fundamentals are the same, in that we know what our duties are," he said.
The battalion spent several months preparing for their deployment, and some Soldiers said they are drawing on their experiences in previous deployments to help their comrades who've never set foot in a combat theater.
Captain Timothy Lambert, battalion intelligence officer, has deployed twice to Iraq and will be on his first deployment to Afghanistan. The challenge he faces with this deployment is being a parent to a 2-year-old and a 7-week-old daughter.
"The first deployment I had no kids, and I came back to a nine-month-old daughter on my second deployment," Lambert said.
The Cincinnati, Ohio native said his toddler has some understanding that daddy will not be at home.
"She has the concept that Daddy's not here," he said. "We have a wall map at our home with push pins showing her where we live and where I'm going to be."
Sergeant 1st Class Teklinski, battalion sergeant for the 716th MP Bn., said he believes the battalion is ready to conduct their mission and is confident on the amount of deployment experience of his fellow Soldiers.
"We just made sure that the people around us were competent in doing their job," he said.
This deployment will be the first one ever for Battalion Battle Captain, Capt. David Becker. The White Lake, Mich., native said he is excited to go and conduct the mission.
"It's why you join the Army, to be a part of an experience like this," he said.