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Securing the support area.

The Chief of Staff of the Army, General Mark A. Milley, has made readiness his No. 1 priority for Regular Army and Reserve Components. He also provided guidance to Regular Army senior leaders to conduct training events with U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard units when possible.

First Cavalry Division (1CD) headquarters recently joined several Army units and conducted Warfighter Exercise (WFX) 16-5 to train and validate its staff in preparation for deployment. The WFX is a home station mission rehearsal exercise conducted as a multiechelon culminating training event for deploying units. (1)

The 720th Military Police Battalion Intelligence and Operations Sections supported the exercise by augmenting the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (U.S. Army Reserve) response cell. In accordance with WFX task organization requirements, the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade employed two military police battalions in support of 1CD.

During the WFX and ramp-up command post exercise, military police units were given a variety of mission sets that enabled the 1CD commanding general to maintain a deep-fight focus and to avoid becoming overly concerned about the support area. Military police secured the division support area by conducting detention operations, security and mobility operations, and policing operations to ensure freedom of movement for maneuver and sustainment units.

Detention Operations

Conducting detention operations in an immature theater requires the close synchronization of sustainment, security, and operational assets to ensure mission success. (2) Military police companies were placed in direct support of brigade combat teams throughout major combat operations to better support detention operations. Military police companies established brigade holding areas so that detainees could be evacuated, then collected and secured throughout the area of operations. (3) Throughout the exercise, the brigade holding areas received 500 to 1,000 detainees who required transport to the division holding area within a 48- to 72-hour timeline. The Army National Guard company provided mission command of the division holding area and used military working dog assets for patrols and security.

Military intelligence assets collected information before the transportation of detainees. Transportation was managed by the 1CD Provost Marshal's Office, which ensured a common operating picture of the detainee situation among organizations. The Provost Marshal's Office coordinated the air movement of detainees with 1CD Air Cavalry Brigade or gave guidance on link-up locations for ground transfer missions.

Security and Mobility Operations

Military police units supported the forward passage of lines between host nation (HN) forces and divisional units by reducing the congestion in the passage area. Military police units aggressively conducted route reconnaissance of main supply routes and alternate supply routes in the 1CD area of operations.

Military police also supported wet-gap crossings by conducting traffic control points to control the flow of units at designated crossing sites. The division tactical command post maintained a 2-day mission command during this operation due to enemy indirect-fire opposition.

Military police provided support to two camps within the division support area for the resettlement of internally displaced personnel. During the exercise, 2,000 internally displaced personnel conducted demonstrations along key main supply routes to protest the American presence in their country. Military police, civil affairs personnel, and several nongovernmental organizations were tasked to clear the route and support established internally displaced personnel camps.

Policing Operations

Military police units were tasked to conduct HN police training and support while major combat operations were taking place. Military police reacted to an attack on a police station in an urban area and established a training and development relationship at the request of the chief.

Military police also provided support to civil law enforcement by performing riot control when a protest became violent. Military police were the first responders to the incident and were later supported by HN police forces.

Lessons Learned

Following are the major lessons learned for military police units supporting WFX 16-5:

* Maneuver support (doctrine):

** Conduct survivability moves using mobile vice static checkpoints.

** Conduct aggressive patrolling of the support area (deterrence).

** Understand how to support forward passage of lines, wet/dry-gap crossings, and HN integration.

** Understand that detainee operations are not internally displaced personnel operations.

* Keys to success (train-up):

** Quickly integrate into the division staff planning cycle, military decision-making process, leaders training program, and division combined arms rehearsal.

** Constantly discuss military police utilization and protection priorities with the division provost marshal's office.


Military police secured the division support area by conducting detention operations, security and mobility operations, and policing operations to ensure freedom of movement for maneuver and sustainment units. Military police are still relevant and credible enablers for maneuver commanders to employ in support of a decisive-action or counterinsurgency battle.


(1) III Corps and Fort Hood Regulation 350-1, Training and Leader Development, 30 March 2009.

(2) Field Manual 3-39, Military Police Operations, 26 August 2013.

(3) Ibid.

Major Howard is the battalion executive officer for the 720th Military Police Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from Alabama A&M University, Huntsville, and a master's degree in security management from Webster University.

By Major Early Haward Jr.
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Author:Howard, Major Early
Publication:Military Police
Date:Mar 22, 2017
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