Port Security Unit 311 – Land Security in a Port Security Unit

KUWAIT NAVAL BASE, Kuwait – What does the Army do when it doesn’t have enough soldiers on hand qualified to “man” the turret guns on its HMMWVs for patrols – it calls the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard Port Security Unit 311, based out of San Pedro, Calif., arrived in Kuwait in early December with the Navy’s Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron One (MSRON ONE) as part of the Combined Task Group 56.5, under the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command.

MSRON ONE’s mission is to protect the Kuwaiti ports, and all the high value U.S. cargo for Operation Iraqi Freedom coming in and out of theatre, so that supplies can get to the Soldiers, Marines and Sailors throughout the Middle East.

A small but essential part of that security includes protection against threats that could come from the land.

Enter Unit Security or UNISEC, a significant part of PSU 311.

“Landward security is responsible for protecting the rest of the port security unit while we deploy overseas and have boats in the water,” said Ensign David Bavencoff while checking on unit members on duty at the port. “We also provide pier-side security for high value assets that come into port.”

Bavencoff is the Assistant Landward Security Officer for PSU 311. His team of 45 Coast Guardsmen are here working with the Army protecting the entrances and facilities of the port while the boat crews protect the water.

“Right now we’re working entry control points,’ Bavencoff said. But the integration goes well beyond just providing gate security

In the port, the land security mission is already performed by the Army, so the UNISEC made sure they had the training they needed to work with the National Guard units already here.

“We were told to train for a variety of missions anywhere from running convoys, to dignitary protection missions,” Bavencoff said, discussing the months of training the unit underwent before arriving here. “(We) went to Fort Irwin (Calif), the National Training Center, to learn how to drive up-armored HMMWVs and qualify on the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapons.”

This is the weapon used by the Army on its patrols with its HMMWVs. Because of their training, the PSU 311 UNISEC was able to step right in.

Within weeks of arriving, UNISEC was already standing watches with Army security patrols and providing personal protection escorts for highly important guests from the USO visiting the region.

“Because they’re working with the Army, (and) the Army has different requirements, and uses some different weapons systems, we sent them (UNISEC) to the national training center at Fort Irwin, California for three weeks of preparation training,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ken Stefanisin, Commanding Officer of PSU 311, “That gives the PSU additional operational flexibility when working with the Army security forces.

“Any time in the Army needs them to augment their security forces, our people are trained up and ready to go at any time to step into those positions.”

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