News: New tactics, techniques increase efficiency at Safwan
Story by Spc. Maurice Galloway
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq — Iraq's border is more secure thanks to the concerted efforts of the Safwan Port of Entry Transition Team, 17th Fires Brigade and Iraq's Port of Entry Police. The main entry point along the Iraq-Kuwait border, Safwan lies approximately 64 miles south of the city of Basrah.
"Our mission is to advise, train and assist the Iraqi Safwan Port of Entry Police," said Lt. Col. David M. Miller, Safwan PoETT team chief and a native of Paducah, Ky. "We have been providing the Iraqi POE police with the type of training that will eventually allow them to conduct security evaluations in an efficient and effective manner."
Miller applauds his team's efforts in supporting the Iraq-U.S. initiative toward joint partnering and remains confident of its continuing success.
"We're extremely impressed at how fast they have picked up on this equipment and these targeting techniques," he said. "They have not only become proficient with their usage of these tactics and equipment, but they are ready to begin teaching what we've taught them."
Due to the extremely high number of vehicles that pass through the Safwan port of entry on a daily basis, not every vehicle can be searched in its entirety by the inspection crews.
To expedite the search process, border guards now use an instrument called Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System, a high-tech electronic method used for scanning vehicles in rapid succession.
The VACIS is used primarily to scan larger vehicles carrying loads that offer more places to hide threats. For smaller vehicles a similar system called the Backscatter Van is used. This system scans vehicles using technology similar to an ultrasound.
"We want them to use the equipment and technology available," said Michael Irons, border enforcement advisor with the U.S. contractor DynCorp International and a native of Sydney, Australia. "We're teaching them not to depend solely on the VACIS, but to be able to spot minor details that would go unnoticed, if not for their trained eye."
"The VACIS is incredible, it works just like the machine that searches your baggage at the airport, but on a much larger scale," said Miller
The members of the Safwan PoETT feel their success comes because of their good working relationship with the Iraqi Police leadership.
"The coordinating efforts between the U.S. military and our port police have been very fruitful," said Gen. Sami Abdul Hussein Radi Al Sudani, Safwan Port of Entry commanding officer.
"I'm currently trying to acquire 500 square meters more land for the port so that we will have sufficient amount of space to operate," he said. "More land would allow us to have better organization and increased efficiency while overall improving our functionality."
"I like the idea that we're helping the Iraqis protect themselves, and they've shown a huge amount of progress toward learning the techniques we've been teaching," said Sgt. 1st Class Darrin T. Whitman, intelligence analyst with the Safwan PoETT and a native of Colorado Springs, Colo. "Most of the success at this port can be attributed to the new general's commitment to making things better for the people and the country."