National Guard MPs learn tactics at FLW's Regimental Training Institute
By: Matthew J. Wilson/Missouri National Guard
Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2009 11:56 pm
From left, Sgt. Justin Ludwig attempts to restrain Spc. William Strange from tackling Spc. Bruce Robinson, who is being pulled away by Spc. Richard Hurst during a domestic disturbance exercise during phase one of the MP military occupational course.
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (March 5, 2009) — A mixed unit of 39 National Guard soldiers from five states is in the process of completing the first phase of military police military occupational specialty training with the 2nd Battalion, 140th Regional Training Institute on post.
Phase one deals mostly with law and order tactics.
“Some of them will be able to pick up the difference between the civilian law enforcement and the military law enforcement,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Brown, military police branch chief for the training institute. “Those who have never been exposed to it, hopefully, will get a good feel for being able to respond to situations as they come up.”
Brown said the class is made up of soldiers from the Missouri, California, Idaho, New Mexico and South Carolina Army National Guards, as well as one from the West Virginia Army Reserve.
About 19 of the soldiers went straight into the course after returning from deployment to Kosovo.
The unit will continue on to its second phase of training March 14.
Upon completion, the soldiers, several of whom have a civilian law enforcement background, will be qualified to do any military police mission, Brown said.
The course’s two phases are spread out over four weeks — two weeks per phase — that includes both classroom training and practical experience in the field.
During the first week, soldiers went over baton training, self defense and how to handle riots and other civil disturbances.
“An integration of civil disturbances, law and order operations, forms, use of force, and communication skills gives them the tools needed to go out and perform their duties,” Brown said.
During the second week of training, the soldiers patrolled in cars and went through four exercises designed to test their ability to answer complaint calls from people inside a simulated city.
Each day, half the class participated as responding military police, while the other half was role players as perpetrators or witnesses.
“It teaches you how to respond to different things going on, how to respond when things change,” Brown said of the training. “It also shows you how to go out and interact with other people.”
The necessary interpersonal communications skills, Brown says, are typically the most challenging part for the soldiers to pick up.
“A lot of soldiers have never had to do any kind of training that involved interpersonal communications skills,” Brown said. “Some of that is new for them and they learn a whole lot from doing the hands-on exercises.”
The exercises involved a domestic disturbance in a home, a disorderly conduct call from a bar, a rape crime scene in a barracks and a drunken driving stop.
“There are two exercises that contend for being the toughest,” Brown said. “The first one would be the rape scene, because of the nature of the case and because it deals with evidence questioning, which is really difficult.
“The other is the domestic, again because of the nature of it, but also because there is a lot more paperwork that goes with it the way that we have it set up.”
Sgt. Jimmey Fawcett of the 835th Combat Supply Support Battalion in Jefferson City said he liked the disorderly conduct and bar fight exercise because it had the most action.
“You go in there, it was busy and everybody had a part to do,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. Everybody acted like they were supposed to and it was very realistic. They made you mad, which kind of messed you up during the exercise, but it was a good exercise in turn.”
With no law enforcement background, Fawcett said he found all aspects of the training to be valuable.
“I learned a lot,” he said. “Everything has been a new experience.”
Spc. Richard Hurst, of the 1138th Military Police Company in Springfield, said his favorite exercise was the drunken driving stop because he is a Labette County sheriff’s deputy near his home in Oswego, Kan.
“I enjoy working traffic,” Hurst said.
Hurst said the course has been an enlightening learning experience.
“It’s taught me the way the Army wants things done as far as the paperwork and the protocol,” Hurst said. “We had several instructors with civilian law enforcement experience and they are very knowledgeable. The training aids that the National Guard has available to them are definitely impressive.”
Sgt. Justin Ludwig of the 3175th Military Police Company in Warrenton returned from deployment to Kosovo earlier this month. He said he drew on his civilian law enforcement career to help him handle his two favorite exercises, which were the drunken driving stop and the domestic disturbance.
“I’m kind of the unofficial DWI enforcement officer,” said Ludwig, a Macon city patrolman. “The domestic is the next most common one I deal with and since I’ve been deployed now for a year, it’s kind of been a good refresher.”
The hands-on training has mostly been a refresher for Ludwig and Cpl. Shaun Williams of the 3175th Military Police Company, but mastering the differences in Army and civilian law enforcement paperwork, terminology and procedure is brand new.
“Some things you are more restricted and a lot of things, you’ve got a lot more leeway that you can do on post and military housing, which in the long run makes a military police officer’s job a lot easier,” said Williams, who works for the police and fire departments in the Missouri city of Mexico. “Some of your expectations of privacy are a little more limited. Generally in housing and barracks, you live so close to each other that a lot of times you are going to have a lot more witnesses and tight-knit groups.”
Spc. Bruce Robinson of the 1139th Military Police Company in Harrisonville said the field exercises were a fantastic learning tool.
“I had no idea how much stuff an MP had to do and know,” Robinson said. “Sitting in a classroom, you get some aspect of it — you learn a lot of it. But by getting out here and actually doing the hands on, it brings everything to life that you need to know.”
Seeing the four different exercises through both a military policeman’s and perpetrator’s eyes was also a valuable experience, said. Spc. William Stange of the 3175th Military Police Company.
“It helps out a lot,” said Stange, who acted as a perpetrator on the domestic disturbance scenario. “For one, you have to put yourself in the criminal’s shoes to think what they’re thinking and to know where you would stash a gun or drugs in this situation.”
Robinson, who also was a domestic disturbance role player, agreed.
“It’s given me a point of view from both sides. The training was very realistic,” Robinson said. “It makes me see things from another angle and it gives me more insight on how a criminal’s mindset. I definitely want to be on the good guys’ side.”
There’s also a responsibility to perform believably.
“You don’t want to make it too difficult for them, but then again you want to keep them on their toes and try to depict as real of a scenario as possible,” Stange said.
Overall, Stange said the course has given him new respect for law enforcement.
“It helps you understand what the MP is going through and what they have to do ensure their safety and the safety of others,” he said. “It really open up you mind to what police officers have to deal with.”