591st MP Co., Texas Highway Patrol join forces for training
August 15, 2011
FORT BLISS, Texas, Aug. 10, 2011 -- Soldiers from the 93rd Military Police Battalion’s 591st MP Company and troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Highway Patrol joined forces in the name of knowledge-sharing and strengthening their law enforcement bond during training here Aug. 8 through 12.
Since Fort Bliss’ main cantonment area is nestled within the confines of northeast El Paso, Texas, and some military housing areas are located outside the fences, “Spartan” officials said cooperation with regional law enforcement is a necessary relationship, and also that MP Soldiers benefitted from law enforcement tutelage from troopers who do it 365 days a year.
With logistical assistance from Fort Bliss’ Directorate of Emergency Services, for the first time in history the 591st and Texas state troopers trained together on topics such as officer safety traffic stops, Emergency Vehicle Operations Certification, basic patrolling, and general tactics and procedures. Second Lt. John Kile, platoon leader for 1st Platoon, 591st MP Co., said the weeklong evolution served not only his Soldiers and troopers from the Texas DPS, but also the public for which they serve.
“Fort Bliss is an open post and we have housing areas which are off the main cantonment,” he said. “Building our relationship with DPS by doing the joint training, [it’ll be easier to] share information about criminals and crime that’s going on in El Paso. It’ll build a safer community not only for us on the military installation but also for El Paso because if we get information through CID or the MPs, we can call DPS (and El Paso city and county) and give them the heads up.”
Kile added that DES officers’ hands in the training, which included rolling out the new Dodge Dakotas, which will soon hit the streets as Fort Bliss’ new patrol vehicles, was vital to the shared success.
“DES has worked closely with us to make sure we had all of the equipment we needed,” he said. “[The Soldiers] are getting driving familiarization [on the new Dakotas]; they’re a great asset and have truly always been a great friend to the military police.”
While the joint training covered multiple areas of law enforcement, they joined forces and shared equipment on the EVOC course Aug. 10. Lt. Col. Vernon Lightner, commander of the 93rd MP Bn. and director of Bliss DES, said he couldn’t have been happier about the caliber of training going on last week.
“What we asked for was some basic training to help our guys pay attention to our driving habits out there,” he said, “and what we received was state-of-the-art, police academy advanced training, so for our MPs to receive this training, it was definitely more than what we asked for. It will go a long way toward making sure our Soldiers are prepared to execute their law enforcement mission.”
Law enforcement, one of several missions of a well-trained MP Corps company, is especially paramount for the 591st at this point of the calendar in 2011, for the 93rd MP Bn. on a larger DoD scale, and also for foreign police officers on the other side of the globe.
The “Spartans” are scheduled to roll into what MPs call “red cycle” in two weeks, which means they will take over “on-the-road” post operations in tandem with Fort Bliss Department of the Army police officers. According to Kile, they’re expected to be on red cycle longer than usual as the battalion adapts to future deployment schedules.
Also, for the next few weeks, assets from the 93rd MP Bn. continue to be in an “on-call” status as part of Task Force 93rd. TF 93rd would deploy with 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade’s Task Force Operations as part of Joint Task Force-Civil Support in the event of a catastrophe in which a governor requested federal assistance.
Kile added that while the week’s joint training benefitted many in both a local and federal sense, coalition allies in Southwest Asia also stand to benefit from the initiatives put in place here.
“The training the Soldiers are receiving is not only going to be used in the Fort Bliss and El Paso communities,” he said, “they’re going to take this downrange to Afghanistan and Iraq when they deploy. They’re going to be tasked with training foreign police officers on how to perform tactics just like these, the right way and the safe way.”
Cpl. William Durner, a Soldier from 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, 591st MP Co., said while he feels confident about the training he’s received as a Soldier-police officer, any chance he gets to train with officers who carry out an “on-the-road” law enforcement mission year-round is appreciated.
“We not only deal with on-the-road but we have our combat side, so it’s different to work with those who do it every day,” he said. “They’ve offered us their experiences on working on the road and the perspectives they have; it’s good to see what they go through and learn from them.”
He added that whether he makes a career out of military law enforcement or joins the ranks of a civilian force, the joint training with the Texas state troopers was a win-win situation for him.
“Having a head start over everybody else makes me feel more confident,” said Durner, a four-year veteran. “Going to the [DPS] academy and knowing that you’ve trained with these people before, and know their standards and policies … you already have one foot through the door.”
Regardless of long-term decisions, he said in the short term he’s a better MP today for having the opportunity to train with the Texas Highway Patrol Aug. 8 through 12.
“Training always helps us move forward,” he said. “Any training we do always makes us better.”