Force protection support to Army Materiel Command--military police protecting Department of Defense resources during Operation Noble Eagle.
Following the events of 9-11, our unit was prepared for any mission that it was called to execute. After receiving a visit from Missouri's U.S. Representative, the Honorable Ike Skelton, during the October drill, unit members could not help but realize that he was a harbinger for the events to come. Many soldiers began to prepare mentally for a near-future activation.
The "near future" came on Thanksgiving Day 2001 when I received the official mobilization notification. I started the alert roster call-up quickly and had unit members reporting to the armory on Monday morning for soldier readiness processing (SRP). We accomplished the required processing in one day. This included the typical preparations involving legal, financial, personnel, medical, dental, and family readiness issues that are always addressed before deploying. It was at the end of this first day that the designated advance party departed for our mobilization station, Fort Riley, Kansas.
The rest of the unit had two more days to order and issue supplies and prepare and load the platoon equipment for the convoy. The soldiers also had to deal with their civilian employers who, at most, had one afternoon's notice that they would be losing an employee for up to two years.
After accomplishing these tasks, we held a departure ceremony at both of our units' locations. Our guest speakers were the Honorable Bob Holden, the Governor of Missouri, and Brigadier General Dennis Shull, the Adjutant General of Missouri. Many of the local and regional VIPs were also present. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion provided color guards; the local school bands provided the music; and friends and family provided the spirit for a festive, yet bittersweet, departure. Following the ceremonies, the unit convoyed to Fort Riley.
Upon arrival, the unit transitioned smoothly into our mobilization station environment. The advance party provided this ease by coordinating the logistical issues and completing training schedules for our entire two-week stay. The next morning, the unit went through the installation's SRP without a hitch. This was primarily due to the intense screening at our home armories. Days three through six consisted of platoon lane training.
The three lanes chosen to prepare us for our designated mission were--
* Perimeter security.
* Conventional ammunition-supply-point security.
* Response-force operations.
The lanes were chosen to complement and reinforce the training that had been conducted recently. Each platoon had trained on a single lane--day and night--for three consecutive days. They were barraged with scenarios and scrutinized closely by trained observer/controllers (O/Cs). Specific incidents may require a platoon to conduct an after-action review, regroup, and do it again. The platoons worked on weaknesses and honed their skills and teamwork until they were able to "run" through each lane. The platoons continued to work their way through the crawl, walk, run phases of the lane-training process until both the platoon leader and the O/Cs felt that the platoon was ready to perform at the optimum level. The culmination of the training occurred on the fourth day as each platoon's feet were put to the fire during the validation process. Although encountering many difficult situations, each platoon resolved the situations properly. They pulled together, shined, and received validation on each lane.
The next morning, and for the next five days, we began weapons qualifications in the following order:
* M249 SAW
The 924th MP Battalion supported our ranges outstandingly. Shooting one weapon per day allowed us to concentrate our resources at a particular range and supplement the 924th' s range support personnel with our own. Typically, we must fire and support five ranges by ourselves on a drill weekend (Saturday).
After completing the weapons ranges, the company trained for three days on a set of mission-specific training requirements focusing on individual soldier homeland defense tasks with a focus on security, medical and weapons tasks, and night-vision-goggle training. It was also imperative to perform maintenance on the equipment, particularly the weapons and vehicles. We were also continuing to receive individual equipment through supply.
While at Fort Riley, I managed to go with my training support battalion mentor, Major Andrew Lark, to our mission sites. We traveled to Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (LCAAP) in Independence, Missouri; the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant (KSAAP) in Parsons; and the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (IAAAP) in Middletown and met with the staff members at each site. The LCAAP and IAAAPs have one military person assigned, and the KSAAP site has one nonmilitary commander's representative. Each site has a small number of Department of Defense (DOD) employees and hundreds, sometimes thousands, of civilian employees working for the contractor or its subcontractors. The most important issue we faced was that none of the sites had an infrastructure to support troops. The bottom line was, we were beginning a military operation at three sites with nothing to sustain the troops.
Quick planning addressed the logistical basics of food, billeting, and working environments. We established levels of support similar to, or based on, what is expected on a regular military installation. We coordinated space for our supply, administrative, medical, and operations sections as well as for guard mount and weapons vaults. We were also able to coordinate an area for unit maintenance at each site. We then spent time discussing the integration period and the agenda for the first week at each site. My intention was to create the most fluid transition possible, enabling us to assume the mission as early as possible.
We completed a site reconnaissance to evaluate the mission and expectations of each site commander more accurately. This would also help me determine the distribution of my soldiers to meet the expectations for mission accomplishment. Upon completion of the site and map reconnaissances, the site commander (or his representative) and I worked out a comprehensive plan of what we could, and would, provide to secure their plants. Additionally, we now had an understanding of the logistical arrangements for food, billeting, working environments, morale, welfare, recreation, and the other major logistical areas.
After completing the required training and coordinating the logistics, we prepared for three separate convoys to LCAAP, KSAAP, and IAAAP. The LCAAP and KSAAP convoys departed on the same day while the IAAAP convoy departed two days later. Each convoy made it to its site without incident. The platoons set up and received a thorough overview of the mission. The overview included briefings by the site commander, the corporate contractor's representative (the people making the munitions), the contract security manager, the Department of the Army's civilian security manager, the plant's fire department chief, and the safety and environmental representatives. The reason for giving the soldiers such a thorough overview was to provide a clear understanding of whom everyone was and to create a sense of purpose for the individual soldier. This was critical because these locations are isolated and remote. The contract security briefing clarified the specific details of what contract security does and what our forces do. This created clear lines of responsibility and enabled both sides to thoroughly understand how we would mesh to make this the most formidable security force available.
After the briefings were completed, we rode along with each site's contract security force while familiarization patrols began getting familiar with the terrain and mission-essential vulnerable areas (MEVAs). Within the first week, we gained a thorough understanding of the mission and a familiarity with the terrain.
Our mission was to secure, deter, and defend against attempts to gain unlawful entry into and delivery of weapons, explosives, or other unauthorized materials to designated sites. We also had to be prepared to apprehend or destroy an attacking force, secure the zone of attack, and restore the preattack operations. The bottom line was that we had to be prepared to defeat any attempt to access sensitive areas. The purpose of our mission seemed small until you realized what it was that we were protecting. The Lake City plant manufactures all of the small-arms ammunition for the DOD, the Kansas plant manufactures "bombs" for the Air Force, and the Iowa plant manufactures tank ammunition. The important facts are that these sites are "sole-source providers" for the munitions they manufacture. From a security standpoint, these sites could be considered targets for large payoffs.
Each of our assigned AMC sites has a contract security force that could have been categorized, prior to 9-11, as an "industrial" security force. This is a small, lightly armed force that has been reduced to all-time low manpower numbers. Following 9-11, the post was closed to thru traffic and the size of the security force more than doubled because of the new security demands placed on the AMC sites to protect vital DOD assets.
When we were called to active duty, the plan was to integrate the military police with the new, enhanced contractor security force to complement the latter by providing firepower and a visible deterrent to would-be attackers. With the numbers of military police assigned to each site, we provided roving patrols through designated sectors and static security at priority MEVAs and the main gates, 24/7.
A team of force protection planners, (from the Operations Support Command in Rock Island, Illinois) the platoon leader, and I conducted an extensive mission analysis of each site. Afterward, we recommended how to enhance the security posture. We based our recommendations first on ideal conditions and then on the availability of funds and assets. We suggested enhancing barrier systems and lighting techniques--areas typically covered in FM 3-19.30, Physical Security--using security videotaping. This process proved to be a valuable learning tool.
As a follow-up, we met again several months later to develop an off-the-shelf CD version of each site's protection plan that will be available for future missions. This comprehensive plan includes deployment and movement plans, platoon battle books and standard operating procedures, site-protection plans, and unit mission plans--everything a unit needs to repeat this mission.
National Guard (NG) MP units will probably continue to receive similar missions. These units are well-versed in missions of this nature. We perform security missions at nuclear plants; during natural disasters; at major events in our state (like the Y2K crisis and gubernatorial inaugurations); and, more recently, at airports. Typically, many of these missions are part of our state's Emergency Response Operations Plan (EROP). We train on the EROP tasks and missions to fulfill state requirements and the standard MP company mission-essential task list. Another important supporting fact is that, in this company, 31 percent of the military police are civilian law enforcement officers. The mature, well-seasoned demeanor of these soldiers makes the transition to their mission easy and enables each squad to have numerous professional soldiers to lead and mentor the new or less-experienced troops. The quick adaptability of personnel and units, coupled with the convenient locations of NG units, makes them a perfect match for local, regional, and national security missions of this nature.
Deploy Units, Not Numbers
Another important issue is calling entire units to active duty. By doing so, the support areas of personnel, supply, communications, operations, medicine, and maintenance can perform their duties, as trained. They can focus on the mission and not erode their mission or deplete the troop base by performing other tasks. It is also critical to have available the equipment assigned to a particular modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE). By deploying units, not numbers, you enable them to support themselves. This is essential in an environment--like that of AMC sites--where there is no life-sustaining infrastructure. It would not have been possible to accomplish this mission successfully without the support personnel assisting and sustaining the military police every step of the way.
Activate and Establish the Chain of Command
The 1139th is assigned to the 5th Army. The 3/75th Brigade (Training Support) has administrative control of it, and the individual AMC sites operationally control each platoon. Although we have made this work, it is not the most logical chain of command out there. In the future, I would recommend implementing the typical battalion and brigade structure to support the company-level units assigned to a mission. A company commander would no longer have to talk to an Army-level emergency operations center on a fairly regular basis. Also, it would provide a supporting unit that has personnel and staff assigned to support MTOE units. The current situation does not provide a structure with military personnel who are assigned to support units such as ours.
Performing a vital security mission, while traversing through a part of the contractor-laden AMC that few troops know anything about, has been a thoroughly interesting and valuable experience. The soldiers of the 1139th adapted to the situation and accepted the mission without hesitation, as they did during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the Mississippi River flood in 1993, and Hurricane Mitch in 1999. They are executing the AMC site-security mission flawlessly and will, no doubt, stand ready to answer America' s call, no matter what the mission.
Captain Shaffer is the commander of the 1139th MP Company, MOARNG. He served as the active Guard and Reserve training and operations officer, 175th MP Battalion, MOARNG, from 1996 to 2001. He holds a bachelor's in English from Lebanon Valley College, Annville, Pennsylvania.
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|Author:||Shaffer, Lance A.|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2002|
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