This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri September 6th, 2017. If you would like to see the current articles as they are published, you may subscribe to The Belle Banner by calling 573-859-3328, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail to The Belle Banner, PO Box 711, Belle, MO 65013. Subscription rates are; Maries, Osage, and Gasconade County = $23.55 per year, elsewhere in Missouri = $26.77, outside Missouri = $27.00, and foreign countries = $40.00.
For those interested in Law Enforcement, another army job that is trained at Fort Leonard Wood is Military Police – MP. In fact, all services, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Department of Defense Civilian Police are trained at the US Army Military Police School (USAMPS) at Fort Leonard Wood. USAMPS is fully accredited by FLETA (Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation).
Up until a few short years ago, when the question was asked; “Does being an MP in the military help you get a job as a civilian police officer?” The answer was a flat NO. In fact many law enforcement agencies, while eagerly accepting veterans, preferred that an applicant not have been a military MP. First, the military didn’t teach the subjects taught in civilian police academies, they didn’t do much of the same type of work, and they were in the military. To many civilian police forces, having been an Army MP was a detriment, because they came with bad habits. The military had different forms, different reporting procedures, and they were soldiers. A soldier is a soldier, regardless of job. While in service, they think differently, act differently, and speak their own language. So regardless of the military experience, most civilian police forces required veteran applicants complete a civilian police academy.
That started changing in 2011 when a military police captain and a lieutenant, at Fort Leonard Wood, took the Missouri POST (Police Officer Selection and Training) Exam. They identified the subjects tested in the exam which were not covered in their military training. Their boss, the battalion commander, of the 787th MP Battalion, contacted the University of Missouri-Columbia Law Enforcement Training Institute. In 2012, Mr. William Stephens, the senior instructor at the Columbia Institute partnered with the USAMPS to help them evaluate their training and re-develop it to meet the 600 hours of training required by Missouri. Initially a core of instructors were trained, and in January 2013 twenty one officers, non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) (sergeants), and two civilians from USAMPS took the Missouri POST exam. All passed and subsequently received their State of Missouri police license. After redeveloping and extending the initial military police training, Missouri recognized 722 hours of training, well exceeding the 600 hour requirement.
Army military police, MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 31B, are trained in OSUT (One Station Unit Training) companies, meaning that their basic combat training and their advanced MOS training is conducted in the same company, all together. The basic training phase is ten weeks and the MP phase is 11 weeks. In February 2013, Company E, 787th MP Battalion, having most of its cadre Missouri POST certified, was designated as the pilot company to test the new curriculum. At graduation, 69 members of the class, who were age 21 years or older, took the Missouri POST Exam with 62 (90%) passing and receiving their state license. Now, all 31B graduates, who are 21 or over, take the Missouri POST exam.
The Missouri POST examination is a 200 question exam, which covers constitutional law, Missouri statutory law, traffic law, ethics and professionalism, domestic violence, human behavior, patrol issues, jail population management, traffic accident and law enforcement, criminal investigation, offense investigation, report writing, juvenile justice and procedures, first responder, defensive tactics, firearms and the fundamentals of law enforcement driving.
In addition to the required civilian subjects, military police training covers advanced communications and advanced map reading skills, the M2 .50-cal machinegun and the MK 19 .40-cal automatic belt fed grenade launcher, vehicle Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services (PMCS) and driving the HMMWV on and off road, pistol qualification, MP Law Enforcement Operations, Defensive tactics and techniques, Detainee Operations, Active shooter response, Tactical operations, and Battlefield Forensics.
Much of the training is conducted at Stem Village, a mock city on Fort Leonard Wood named for a former MP Corps commandant. The village covers 77,670 square feet and is constructed of dual purpose buildings like a movie theater which also contains weapons training classrooms. There is a mock MP Station, bar, strip mall and gymnasium. Another part of the village, used by officers and NCO’s that attend nine different courses from special police operations to anti-terrorism and counterdrug, has a credit union, shoppette, health clinic, family housing and other buildings that might be encountered on a military base. There is also a state-of-the-art urban operations training area that resembles areas in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is also one of the most realistic anti-terrorism evasive driving training areas for Department of Defense drivers for general officers and VIP’s.
MP duty varies with the unit and its mission. The following was written by an MP stationed at Fort Leonard Wood.
“Most units rotate trough a cycle on a base. Here at Ft. Leonard Wood we have a pretty average cycle. One month Law Enforcement, one month Access Control, One month training. During the Access control month we work the gates checking IDs. We issue passes and ensure that only authorized personnel and their vehicles enter the post. During the Law Enforcement month we patrol the base in vehicles and on foot. We respond to 911 calls and general complaints. We use RADAR to enforce speed laws and of course watch stop signs for violations. The training month is used to prepare for field missions. These can consist of basic soldier skills or advanced unit specific missions. Some units train to escort POWs during war, others train to support forward units in finding their way. A unit may be tasked with setting up a holding compound for prisoners or detainees.
A big question I get asked is, Are you treated differently as an MP? The answer is yes and no. Some people are afraid to approach police officers. They picture us all a mean, power hungry people. Others love to taunt cops. Most people are indifferent to us though. They know we are around they just don’t think about us much. We are by the nature of our duties different. While many people sleep or take holidays, we work the roads and gates.
24 hours a day you can find a crew of MPs standing guard or working a beat. 365 days a year you can call the MP station and get a dispatcher on the phone. That’s the nature of MP work.
Military Police are just soldiers doing a different job. We carry weapons with live ammo every day. We write tickets for people well above our own pay grades.
We face combat situations in the front lawns of soldier’s homes weekly. And when we see a cop behind us we think, “What does this jerk want”.”
Another wrote; “God forbid you write a Colonel’s wife a ticket and it gets pulled.”
In combat areas MP’s can and do see combat. They are occasionally used for route reconnaissance, and sometimes for convoy escort.
On Sunday, March 20th 2005 a squad, in three Humvees, from the 617th MP Company of the Kentucky National Guard was escorting a convoy of 30 civilian tractor trailers in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Timothy Nein was the Squad Leader and Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester the assistant. The MP vehicle, leading the convoy, came under attack from insurgents in a pair of dry irrigation ditches that ran parallel to the road. They were firing AK-47’s, machineguns, and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launchers. The other MP’s all sped down the shoulder of the road to get to the front of the convoy between the insurgents and the trucks. They made a right turn onto a side road, in an attempt to flank the insurgents, when the lead vehicle was hit by an RPG round, wounding the three MP’s in that vehicle. Simultaneously, ten insurgents, firing their rifles, ran across a field to within about 60 feet of where the MP’s had come to a halt. Two MP’s in the second vehicle ran to give aid to the wounded, while one continued firing a Humvee mounted .50-cal machinegun. Staff Sergeant Nein and Sergeant Hester, in the third vehicle, ran to a nearby berm and started firing their M4 carbines, Sergeant Hester also had an M203 Grenade Launcher, with which she pumped out several 40 mm high explosive rounds. By that point in the firefight, the attackers had moved into the ditches and hidden behind several trees. The two MPs treating the wounded on the ground then came under sniper fire as the skirmish continued to escalate. Both soldiers responded by firing AT-4 rockets toward the farmhouse where the sniper was hiding. With the fire of the .50-cal. machine gun beginning to thump away at the enemy’s flank, Staff Sgt. Nein and Sgt. Hester laid down a continuous volume of fire at the 10 insurgents in the closest ditch. Although the Americans were fighting back, the situation had reached a stalemate. The MP’s were greatly outnumbered and had wounded, they couldn’t withdraw, and they would run out of ammunition long before a relief force could reach them. Staff Sergeant Nein and Sergeant Hester had only one option – attack. Realizing that their ammunition was dangerously low, Sergeant Hester ran through the fire back to a Humvee for ammo and hand grenades. Resupplied, the two rolled over the berm and attacked the ditch, while the .50-cal was forcing the insurgents to keep their heads down. Sgt. Hester killed three insurgents with her M4 Carbine and a fourth with her M203 grenade launcher. “It was either them or me—and I wasn’t going to choose the latter,” she later recalled. At the end of the 30 minute firefight, the MP’s had captured one unwounded Iraqi, six wounded, and found 24 dead. They also found 22 AK-47 rifles, 6 PRG launchers, 16 rockets, 13 RPK-type light machine guns, three PKM belt-fed machine guns, 40 hand grenades, and a mountain of small arms ammunition, plus one other chilling discovery – the insurgents were all carrying handcuffs.
Both Sergeants were awarded the Silver Star for valor, for that action. Making 5 foot 4 inch, 23 year old, Leigh Ann Hester, who was a Shoe Carnival store manager in Nashville before her guard unit deployed, the first female to be awarded the Silver Star, since World War II.