Author: Andraschko, Steven
Date published: December 1, 2010
Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010, was not your average Tuesday for Fort Leavenworth, the Army Corrections System or Army Corrections Command (ACC). The staff of the Army Corrections Brigade and United States Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) dubbed it "Super Tuesday" because of the three history-making ceremonies conducted at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., that day. On Super Tuesday, the Army activated its newest Military Police (MP) Brigade, the 15th U.S. Army Military Police Brigade; dedicated the road connecting the USDB and the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility (JRCF) to Master Sgt. Wilberto Sabalu Jr., an Army Corrections NCO killed in a small arms attack in Afghanistan on May 6, 2007; and conducted the ribboncutting ceremony for the new JRCF.
Super Tuesday started with the activation ceremony for the 15th MP Brigade, "The Griffins," on the main parade field at Fort Leavenworth. Brigadier Gen. David Phillips, chief of the Military Police Corps Regiment and the U.S. Army Military Police School was the reviewing officer, with Col. Eric Belcher, commander, 15th MP Brigade, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Godwin completing the reviewing party. During the activation ceremony the Brigade colors were uncased, then the soldiers assigned to the 15th MP Brigade removed their Army Corrections Command shoulder sleeve insignia (unit patch) and replaced it with the 15th MP Brigade patch, the griffin. Phillips and Belcher subsequently addressed the audience and assembled soldiers on the parade field. Phillips acknowledged the appropriateness of reactivating the Brigade to command and control units supporting military corrections operations at Fort Leavenworth, while simultaneously providing soldiers and units with the critical experiential learning and training required to deploy worldwide to conduct detainee operations. Before it was inactivated in Germany on June 30, 1976, the 15th MP Brigade provided command and control for Army corrections operations at four confinement facilities located in Frankfurt, Mannheim, Fürth, and Dachau, West Germany. The ceremony concluded with a "pass in review" by the 15th MP Brigade staff and Color Guard, and participating units from the 705th Military Police Battalion (Internment/Resettlement) and 40th Military Police Battalion (Internment/Resettlement).
After enjoying a piece of cake and some punch, the assembled visitors and friends of the Army Corrections Command from the Leavenworth area, ACA (James Gondles, Jr. and Elizabeth Gondles), and North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents (Pat Keohane) traveled to the north edge of Fort Leavenworth for the dedication of Sabalu Road. The Fort Leavenworth garrison commander, Col. Wayne Green, detailed the merits of naming the road for MSG Sabalu, a great soldier and corrections noncommissioned officer who had served with distinction at the USDB in Korea, Panama, and at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., home of the U.S. Army Military Police School. Sabalu was serving as a corrections advisor to the Afghan National Army while assigned to the Detainee Capabilities Directorate, Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, when he was killed in action. During the ceremony, Sabalu's sister, Elizabeth Sabalu, assisted Green with unveiling the Sabalu Road sign and received a replica road sign from Belcher and Godwin.
The final ceremony of the day was the ribbon cutting at the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility (JRCF). JRCF is the Defense Department's newest medium-security prison built as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act, which directed the Army to consolidate corrections operations from the Fort Knox Regional Correctional Facility (RCF) in Kentucky and the Fort Sill RCF in Oklahoma into the new JRCF at Fort Leavenworth. The Fort Knox RCF was inactivated/closed on Oct. 1, 2009, and the Fort Sill RCF was inactivated/closed on Nov. 9, 2010.
Col. Mark Inch, commander, Army Corrections Command, served as the host and initial speaker during the JRCF Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. The audience was also addressed by Belcher and Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton, who has dual responsibilities as the commander, 705th MP Battalion (Internment/Resettlement) and as commander of the JRCF. Inch, Belcher, Hilton, Godwin, and Simmons cut the ribbon marking the official opening of JRCF. VIP tours of JRCF followed the ceremony.
The three superbly executed ceremonies were a tribute to a great soldier, all those assembled to participate and witness the historic events, and to the Army Corrections Command. It truly was a "Super Tuesday."
Steven Andraschko, CCE, is the deputy director of the U.S. Army Corrections Command in Alexandria, Va.