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03/27/2012

TOP STORY: ICE unit preps special agents for life overseas

With 71 offices in 47 countries, many U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents serve in dangerous locations, often exposing themselves to a variety of threats. That's why HSI's Personnel Recovery Unit prepares HSI personnel for life overseas.

Since its February 2011 inception, the Personnel Recovery Unit has equipped HSI employees with the necessary knowledge, tools, gear and skills needed to identify and appropriately respond to isolating events or potentially dangerous situations. These situations range from natural disasters to political instability to acts of violence.

Before departing for their station abroad, special agents undergo intense training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Cheltenham, Md. A mix of classroom training and simulated real-life exercises prepares special agents for unexpected scenarios that they may face and gives them tools to reduce vulnerabilities abroad.

"We teach them [employees] how to identify or recognize, and if possible, prevent a dangerous or compromising situation; how to egress from the area; and most importantly, how to use these tools and techniques to help them survive an isolating event," said Personnel Recovery Unit Chief Johnny "J.P." Moseley.

The unit is not only focused on the safety of HSI employees who work abroad. Their families' safety is also a top priority. Family members receive training, provided by the U.S. Department of State, that readies them for living overseas.

A division within ICE's HSI Office of International Affairs, the Personnel Recovery Unit focuses on four core competencies. According to Special Agent Wayne Jones, "The Personnel Recovery Unit provides our posts and headquarters with the operational support needed to respond to events, ensures ICE's special agents receive the training and equipment they need, incorporates new strategies and lessons learned, and maintains a solid management and administrative infrastructure."

Unit Chief Moseley is working with the ICE Office of Training and Development, other HSI divisions and with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center to develop an advance training course for ICE employees who work abroad.