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NEWS | Aug. 12, 2016

96th Military Police Battalion heads to GTMO

By Ismael Ortega Mobilization and Deployment, DPTMS Fort Bliss

Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 96th Military Police Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, deployed from the Silas L. Copeland Arrival/Departure Air Control Group airfield to Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba, to serve as the command and control element for the various units stationed on the island after completing training with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security here, July 20.

Soldiers will augment different positions on the naval base, ranging from office support to engineering positions and serving as the command element.

“This I my first (deployment). I’m excited that I get the opportunity to get a taste of active duty and serve my country,” Sgt. Deshawn Hinton, team leader, 96th MP Bn., said.

To prepare for this mission, annual training was conducted at Fort Dix, New Jersey, along with other command and staff exercises to energize the Soldiers. After completing AT, the unit mobilized here, where staff was tested with a mission readiness exercise at McGregor Range, New Mexico. Soldiers were placed into scenarios they would encounter overseas and critiqued on how they responded.

Maj. Shaneka Vaught, battalion commander, 96th MP Bn., said morale has remained high throughout the training. Soldiers were open to operate and perform in different capacities and have been looking forward to the mission.

“I (volunteered for this deployment) because it’s a whole different environment. They get to teach me things that I’m very interested in,” Hinton said. “I really want to cross level to a (military police) or (internment/resettlement specialist) series so (this deployment) is a great opportunity.”

Financial management is a priority for some Soldiers who plan to pay off student debt or buy a house when they return. Many Soldiers plan to attend the Basic Leaders Course, complete structured self-development, increase their physical fitness, further their civilian education and return home with a higher chance of promotion.

“We have an outstanding group of Soldiers. We do have some cross levels, but the Soldiers that came from other units to assist with meeting the minimum requirement for our mission latched on and we’re like one strong family,” Vaught said. “(We’re) looking forward to working together with each and every one of them and conducting an outstanding mission and coming back home, returning every Soldier to their families.”

“It was a big surprise coming from the other side of the United States, but they opened their home with welcoming arms,” Hinton said. “I actually feel more at home here than I would in New Jersey.”

Deploying to a high stress environment, the Soldiers will take care of one another using the battle buddy system and implementing the knowledge they gained from mentoring lessons to make the right decision over the easy one, “choosing the hard right over the easy wrong.”

“To the families, we thank them for their support. It’s been a lot of training, a lot of time we had to spend away from our families in preparation for this mission, Vaught said. “We thank them for their continuous support and prayer as we move forward in preparation to execute our mission and return home safely.”