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Force protection at the one-station unit training level.

In an effort to emphasize and heighten the importance of the Military Police soldier's role in force protection, the Corps's one-station unit training (OSUT) places great emphasis on situational awareness. MP willingly accept the inherent risks involved with the missions of assisting, protecting, and defending our nation.


Recognizing that few enemies wish to, or can, defeat U. S. forces via conventional means, one-station unit Military Police training focuses on training new soldiers to expect, deter, and defeat threats in this emerging nontraditional, asymmetric style of warfare. The cadre challenge new MP soldiers to be vigilant of their surroundings and the activities around them. These situational-awareness skills are taught and honed daily. All aspects of daily training, including inspections and backbriefs, allow soldiers to understand that situational awareness is the key to MP mission success. We seek to form the foundation upon which the success of all future training and mission execution depends.

The drill sergeants, some of the MP Corps's best and brightest noncommissioned officers, execute this training by emphasizing that alert soldiers greatly reduce the likelihood of success of unconventional threats. We teach them that by constantly employing basic security precautions they can eliminate targets of opportunity and prevent an attack. During level I force protection training, we provide every new MP soldier with a basic understanding of the nature of terrorism. The company cadre add challenges to everyday events in both the garrison and field training environments. The goal of these challenges is to exercise the soldiers' ability to understand, attain, and maintain a keen awareness of their surroundings. This awareness-focused training arms new MP with the skills and knowledge necessary to analyze and determine if something is odd or out of place.

OSUT teaches new MP soldiers about their critically important role in the execution of police intelligence operations (PIO). This training teaches them about information gathering and sharing. The focus is on teaching soldiers about the intricacies of information collection--how they can obtain information through interaction with the local population, other service members, allied forces, internees, prisoners, and regular patrol duty observations.

Initially, we find that new soldiers often have great difficulty understanding the intricacies of identifying, recording, and reporting what is "odd." It is the cadre's job to get them to understand! For example, one of the key details of PIO is reporting information through the proper channels. Picture MP soldiers trying to decide if what they are seeing is important enough to take action or report. The event observed may be a "peaceful demonstration," an unexected gathering of people at a location, or simply a "suspicious character." We teach that it is important to report what they hear or see while on the ground, although they may not feel it is important. Using the after-action review process, we show them how information they gained may have been vital to other organizations. Through situational exercises, we continually emphasize the military policeman's responsibility for gathering details and reporting to higher authorities. We teach them that they assist in putting the pieces of an information puzzle together.

At the basic level, the cadre train new MP soldiers to think--meaning, we teach them to analyze everything about the environment, at the same time. They must be able to scan buildings, people, and vehicles and identify why something or someone appears out of place. This training is conducted in conjunction with their everyday training requirements. After hours and hours of emphasizing the importance of situational awareness, it becomes second nature. Force protection training is more than a 1-hour block of instruction; it is a 24-hour, 7 days-a-week reality.

Drill sergeants test soldiers each day by moving objects before the soldiers return from training or before wake-up and/or by placing suspicious objects or packages in and around platoon and company areas for soldiers to identify and report. If soldiers report this information to a drill sergeant in a timely manner, they are acknowledged and rewarded for displaying those skills essential to the success of future MP soldiers. The goal of this training is for soldiers to quickly assess the situation and the environment and identify hazards and threats. This type of heightened awareness training produces better-equipped MP for the new realities of today. We can train a soldier to shoot expert on an M9 pistol, move while mounted in a HMMWV, and communicate effectively on a SINCGARS radio. However, if a soldier walks by an abandoned suitcase full of explosives in a crowded street, or allows a suspicious person to carry explosives into a building, we have failed in our mission to produce a combat-ready MP soldier.

The Army National Guard and Reserves have always been an instrumental part of the Army and the MP Corps. Since the September 11th tragedy, their role in the defense of our nation has increased. These soldiers understand that they, as much as their active component battle buddies, are on the "front lines" and fully engaged in the battle to protect America. During training, we constantly remind Reserve and National Guard soldiers that their training does not stop at Fort Leonard Wood and that many of them will leave here and immediately deploy to secure sites and resources critical to our nation. We seek to erase the soldiers' perception that they have a lesser, or only part-time responsibility, to serve the nation. We want them to understand that no matter what component of enlistment the Army assigns an MP soldier to, he or she is just as deployable as the active duty soldier, and will continue to be for some time.

The Army's future battlefield is unlikely to be like those of Operations Desert Shield/Storm. Now, the threat is not as obvious and could be lurking around the next corner or walking in front of you. The MP soldier's mission always was, and continues to be, the vital role of assisting, protecting, and defending soldiers and civilians on installations around the world. Force protection is not new to our training; we have merely increased our awareness levels to prepare new soldiers for the reality of today's threats.

In all aspects of today's OSUT training, the critical MP aspects of force protection are emphasized. For example, during nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) training, we teach how terrorists can deploy threats. We also teach soldiers how to protect themselves from the various NBC attacks that could occur. We teach soldiers basic first aid, emphasizing the importance of first-response actions that could possibly save lives in the event of a terrorist attack. We truly believe that if our new MP soldiers are involved in either preventing or responding to any type of contingency, they have received the basic skills necessary to contribute to the success of any MP unit's mission success.


LTC Williams would like to acknowledge his company commanders who contributed to this article.

Lieutenant Colonel H. Tracy Williams III is the 787th MP Battalion commander. His previous assignments include aide de camp to the Under Secretary of the Army and special assistant to the TRADOC commander. He holds a bachelor's from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master's in administration of justice from Webster University.
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Article Details
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Author:Williams, H. Tracy, III
Publication:Military Police
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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