MP readiness pays off for Presidential visit
March 25, 2012
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea (March 25, 2012) -- The Nuclear Security Summit brought together the leaders and speakers of dozens of nations to Seoul, South Korea, to discuss the future of nuclear related threats. With this influx of distinguished visitors, it fell upon the members of the United States Army Garrison Yongsan Directorate of Emergency Services and Soldiers from the 142nd Military Police Company to make sure that the president and other distinguished visitors were safe and secure during their time on Yongsan.
To prepare for the distinguished guests, especially President Barack Obama, Emergency Services has planned and prepared for weeks to ensure the safety of Yongsan. Working alongside the U.S. Secret Service, everything from the routes to the daily schedule was taken into account when Obama landed on Yongsan Garrison March 25.
The day began for the MPs hours before the president arrived on post with the assembly of Traffic Control Points along his route in and out of Yongsan Garrison to make sure the route was clear. While the TCPs were staged, members of DES, the Yongsan Fire Department and other agencies secured the president's landing area as dignitaries, including the United States Ambassador to South Korea the Honorable Sung Kim, arrived to greet the president.
As the sun was rising, Marine One touched down on Yongsan, and the route was cleared for the motorcade as it departed into Seoul. After the president left, however, the MPs took only a short break before preparing for his next movement, a return trip.
Greg Dickerson, the deputy director for DES, said that the planning, including posting of personnel and K-9 unit sweeps, was one of the most complicated parts of the event.
"Our MPs are doing a great job securing line of sight, making sure nothing gets placed in the area that has been cleared," Dickerson said. "It's top-notch work. Being a retired MP with the 142nd before, the 142nd is the hardest working MP company in Korea."
The MPs faced even more challenges during during Obama's second trip through the post now that the community had awakened. Traffic on the roads was held back, and MPs patrolled along the sidewalks to keep pedestrians at a safe distance away from the curbs. Thanks to their efforts, the motorcade passed through without incident.
Sgt. Anthony Green, a member of the 14th MP Detachment, said that it was good to see the planning and early hours come together for the event.
"You see all these people coming to witness this," Green said. "So being a part of it is pretty special."
The last run was around noon as the president returned from his trip to Camp Bonifas, at the Demilitarized Zone, to return to where he would stay for the Nuclear Security Summit. Just as with his time returning to Yongsan, his last drive through the community went without incident.
For all the preparation and planning it took, it ultimately came down to the Soldiers on the checkpoints, said Sgt. Matthew Elam, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Traffic section, Yongsan MP Station.
"It's not one person who does all this planning, and it's not just one person who gets all the credit," Elam said. "It's the Soldiers who stood out there for hours on end, in the cold windy conditions today, who really did all the hard work ultimately made the mission a success today."