News: 812th MPs complete GTMO mission and go home to NY
Story by Ashley Alameda
ORANGEBURG, N.Y. - The 812th Military Police Company is an Army Reserve unit that recently demobilized through Fort Bliss after a nine-month tour in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The New York-based unit mobilized in January on its deployment to Guantanamo Bay. The 812th combined forces with the 191st Military Police Company from North Dakota, formed Task Force Platinum, and took over operations at Camp VII from the Navy.
Camp VII is the only high-valued detention facility in the Department of Defense .
Standing up Task Force Platinum proved to be a challenge for the two companies. The soldiers of the unit had to assume positions in the battalion intelligence, logistics, information technology and administrative slots performing outside of their job specialty, in addition to maintaining operations at company levels.
Task Force Platinum received accolades from Joint Task Force Commander Rear Adm. Richard Butler and Joint Detention Group Commander Col. (Promotable) John Bogdan for the force’s professionalism during the mission.
Company Commander Capt. Joseph Richman was confident in his unit’s ability to successfully perform their mission, “We were tasked to ensure we did our mission correctly. That we treated [the detainees] humanely with care and transparency.”
The unit was internally successful in career progression.
According to 1st Sgt. Daniel Kalagian, promotions were at an all time high in the unit. He noted that there was one promotion to captain, one to sergeant first class and 22 promotions to the rank of sergeant.
“Everyone who went to the board was recommended for promotion,” Kalagian said proudly.
It was not all business for the 812th. The unit spent some of their time off helping the surrounding community and gained approximately 1,400 volunteer hours.
“Part of the mission is to be part of the community,” said Kalagian.
He explained that there are active duty component units stationed in the area and his soldiers spent time volunteering with children.
He also noted that they participated in beach cleanup after Hurricane Sandy stormed its way through the area last October.
Toward the end of the tour, the combined companies trained the incoming unit, the 2228th MP Company from Louisiana. The new unit assumed responsibility over Camp VII and the 191st departed Cuba for home. The 812th integrated into positions, such as battalion operations, gate guards and fixed fighting positions with the 128th MP Company from Alabama.
The 812th, along with the 2228th, was also instrumental in the assimilation of Fort Bliss’ own 93rd Military Police Battalion into TFP. The active duty component battalion assumed authority of TFP earlier last month and the 812th returned to Fort Bliss for demobilization.
The unit arrived to El Paso on Oct. 23 and left a little more than a week later for their home station in Orangeburg, N.Y.
“Every single person could not sleep last night,” said Richman during an interview conducted on the day the unit departed Fort Bliss. “Everyone just wanted to jump into their family's arms.”
That moment would have to wait just a little bit longer for Kalagian, whose wife is currently deployed to Afghanistan with the 724th MP Battalion. Kalagian plans to travel back to Fort Bliss early next year to welcome her home.