Vigilant Freeze exercise brings MPs together
December 15, 2010
MANNHEIM, Germany - Despite jet lag for some and hours of travel through the snow for others, three military police units were able to combine forces and participate in the Vigilant Freeze exercise at the Joint Multinational Simulation Center in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Nov. 27- Dec. 7.
Soldiers from the 92nd MP Battalion, 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, based out of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., participated along with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 18th MP Brigade, based out of Mannheim, Germany, and the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 709th MP Battalion from Grafenwoehr.
Battling through time constraints and the logistics of just getting all three units in the same place at the same time, the exercise was organized to provide training or certification for all three units in three separate areas.
Vigilant Freeze was the culminating training event for the 92nd MP Bn. before the unit deploys to Afghanistan in the coming months, it was a re-certification for the 709th MP Bn. for full-spectrum operations following their redeployment, and it also acted as an opportunity for the brigade to validate its Command Post of the Future systems while acting as higher command for both battalions' certifications.
Despite the challenges, the chance to take part in a training event like Vigilant Freeze was too unique to pass up. Maj. Rebecca Hazelett, the executive officer for the 709th MP Bn., said, "It's just a great opportunity to bring three military police units together and train like this."
Few units get the opportunity to travel to Europe for their culminating training event prior to a deployment, but when the 92nd MP Bn. heard about the training package at JMSC for the MP battalions here, they jumped at the chance.
Maj. Anna Slemp, the executive officer for the 92nd MP Bn., said, "[The 18th MP Brigade] bent over backwards to get us here and we are really appreciative of that," adding that for the 92nd MP Bn., the chance to participate, "just made sense because it was the most specific to what we would be doing, just like the unit that we were going to replace."
Not only was the 92nd MP Bn. able to get training tailored to the military police mission in Afghanistan, they were able to get firsthand information from some of Soldiers they are going to be replacing.
A team from the 95th MP Battalion - currently deployed to Afghanistan - flew back to Germany for Vigilant Freeze to provide insight and information and to make sure that the 92nd MP Bn. was getting the best information possible for its upcoming deployment.
"Instead of everything being notional, you can bring a little bit of real world value to every scenario and every key leader engagement," said Sgt. 1st Class Jean Jacquet, the noncommissioned officer in charge of operations for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 95th MP Bn.
The experiences brought in from the 95th MP Bn. were invaluable when it came to creating and injecting scenarios into the 92nd MP Bn.'s exercise.
First Lt. Laneka Van Borkulo, the liaison officer for the HHD, 95th MP Bn., noted how the team from the 95th MPs, "tweaked almost every single scenario in the first two days we were here," in an effort to make the exercise as realistic as possible.
The boots on the ground experience the 95th MP Bn. provided, combined with communication between the two battalions prior to the exercise, meant that the 92nd MP Bn. was able to really shine throughout Vigilant Freeze.
"I think they're leaving better prepared, and I think they're going to hit the ground better prepared just because of the information that we've been pushing to them this whole time," said Warrant Officer Richard Smith, the property book officer for 95th MP Bn. "It showed during the exercise. They came very well-prepared."
The 709th MP Bn. also came ready for their re-certification. Their staff came out to JMSC prior to Vigilant Freeze to give their staff sections a chance to get their feet wet and get a battle rhythm.
But, Hazelett said, with the 18th MP Bde. acting as the higher command, it added another level to the training that they didn't experience in prior runs.
"It's nice to have someone else giving us the scenarios," Hazelett said, "so we can truly test the staff - we can really challenge them."
In the end, every unit tested its staff and came away with a heightened level of readiness for whatever their future missions hold.