Deployment. That one word that so many soldiers fear and look forward to all at the same time. There is the group that has had at least one if not multiple deployments to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, the ones who have deployed elsewhere like Desert Storm, Somalia, Kuwait, even North Africa. And then there are the rest of us, a suprisingly large number of soldiers who have not been deployed at all, anywhere, with about 2 or 3 years of service, PFCs and SPCs looking to make our way into the ranks of the deployed. Yes, I said our, for I too have not been deployed before. That is, until now.
Let's face it, we all joined the military knowing that there was a strong possibility that at some point we would go. It was a fact of life, part of signing the dotted line, no matter who says their recruiter lied or their buddies told them it wasn't going to happen to them, it was impossible to be a part of society and not see the news and the conflict and know that we all would be a part of it someday.
Maturity. Many soldiers joined at the age of 18, fresh out of high school, or in their early 20s when they finally got motivated to want to do something with their lives. If you came into the Army an immature teenager, the drill sergeants were real quick to fix whatever the issue was. However, it becomes easy to go to your unit, especially Guard and Reserves, and revert right back to the irresponsible drinking, partying, blowing off school or jobs or whatever. Then you get your orders to deploy and life comes crashing down around you. At least for some.
Maturity and Deployment. Two things in life that have to go hand in hand whether you realize it or not. There are different types of deployments,as we all know, all based on your MOS and your company. I am part of an MP company, which actually brought multiple possibilities to the table. Combat Support, PSD, Guard. And the last is what we were chosen for.
Guard more specifically refering to Detainee Operations, working a prison filled with those who may or may not be "bad guys". That isn't our job to determine however, we are here for Care, Custody, and Control, and treating them with Dignity and Respect. This is our job 24 hours a day 365 days a year, and will be passed on when we leave, and so on and so forth until it is deemed that we are no longer needed. Until then, we will be mature enough to put whatever feelings we have about the war, the individuals in this country, whatever, aside and do what we need to to ensure that no one is mistreated, abused, degraded, or disrespected.
Where does maturity fit in? Take that 18 year old soldier fresh out of AIT on his first deployment and put him (or her) in a situation where they are responsible for up to 50 detainees at a time, making sure that every one of them goes to their appointments, eats, drinks, showers, everything that we would do in the US at a correctional facility. You can not be an immature teenager more concerned with what video games are coming out or what movie is playing at the theater like you can be back home. In the shadow of Abu Ghraib, nothing is off the table. You must always do the right thing, not only because it is instilled in the Army values, but because at the end of the day, all detainees are still human beings and shall be treated as such.
So yeah, my company may not get the Combat Support missions that allow us to return home with cool stories and maybe even some battle scars, nor do we get to say that we raided villages and found valuable intel or people who will help in the overall mission, but we get to leave here whenever our tour is up knowing that there is a strong possibility that because we are soldiers and we are mature enough to look past our personal feelingss and beliefs to ensure that each and every detainee is treated with Dignity and Respect that when they are released the way we treated them may have influenced their opinions of us and made them less likely to return to planting IEDs or fighting against our fellow brothers and sister in arms, yeah, we can live with that. We will all return a little smarter, a little more seasoned, and a whole lot more mature. Deployment and maturity isn't something to be feared, it is to be embraced with open arms, for it can teach you life skills that you just can't get anywhere else.