About a year ago, members of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company 40th Military Police Battalion from Fort Leavenworth were across the world.
They were among the last units to leave Iraq in the drawdown of American troops from Operation New Dawn. Most of the unit arrived back at Fort Leavenworth Dec. 4, 2011. About 17 members, including then-unit commander Lt. Col. Erica Nelson, returned Dec. 21.
Maj. Gen. David Quantock, commander of the Army Corrections Command, said while there the members worked to prepare detainees to be transitioned from American to Iraqi custody. As of 2008, Quantock said there were about 23,000 detainees in the Iraq theater.
By the time the 40th MP I/R Battalion arrived at the end of the drawdown and transition process, he said the detainees left were the “worst of the worst” and the world was watching — in other words, there was pressure to perform.
“They executed perfectly,” Quantock said.
For that alone, he said the soldiers deserved the honor they received Tuesday — the Brig. Gen. Thomas F. Barr Award for fiscal year 2012. Named for the man known as “the father of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks,” the award is given to the military police company in the U.S. Army picked by an evaluation selection board called together by the Army Corrections Command based on a number of criteria. There were 13 units nominated for the award this year.
But ensuring a smooth transition of the last of the Iraqi detainees was not the 40th’s only
accomplishment, Quantock said.
“If you look at this unit, they did everything well,” he said, including a recent perfect audit score from the American Corrections Association. “What they do every day at Fort Leavenworth and what they do at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks is second to none.”
In addition, Quantock praised the unit’s efforts to volunteer at Eisenhower Elementary School and throughout the community.
For 1st Lt. Michael Imdieke, who leads the 40th I/R MP Battalion along with 1st. Sgt. Britt Cogan, the award was more of an affirmation than a surprise.
“This is just really validation for these soldiers, telling them and really being recognized for all the hard work throughout the year,” he said.
Army Corrections, Imdieke said, is unique its operations compared to other units within the Army.
“We’ve got a mission every day,” he said. “Every day, 24-7, we’ve got soldiers working inside that prison guarding our inmates.”
In that regard, Imdieke said there are five Army corrections companies at Fort Leavenworth, all of which could have easily won the Barr Award.
Now with last year’s deployment behind them, Imdieke said the unit will concentrate on its responsibilities on Fort Leavenworth.
“When it comes to topping this, that’s really hard to do,” he said. “We set a standard and this is where we want to stay.”