FORT MEADE, Md. - When it comes to merchant marine cadets, most wouldn't consider the Army Reserve as their first career option.
Yet, leaders from the U.S. Army Reserve met with midshipmen from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., to show them the maritime opportunities available.
"There are only a limited number of active duty Navy slots open to every graduating class. We want the remaining graduates to be aware that the Army Reserve also conducts maritime operations," said Maj. Gen. Phillip Churn, the commanding general for the 200th Military Police Command.
This shows the Army Reserve's versatility when it comes to supporting the military's Total Force mission around the globe, going beyond just land security, combat or service support.
The Army maintains a large fleet of active and reserve watercraft. There are two military occupational specialties that allow Soldiers to serve on these vessels: Watercraft operators (88K) and watercraft engineers (88L).
Students at the Merchant Marine Academy are presented with the opportunity to join the Army Reserve because their school allows them to choose which military branch they want to follow to fulfill their service obligation.
They are required to serve 300 days total at sea by their third year of school. This strengthens their capabilities and technical skills. The Army Reserve provides two internship opportunities for them while in school. Students can participate on the administrative side at a headquarters level, or they can serve on a vessel as an engineer or 'deckie,' a term used for watercraft operators.
"If we can align the midshipmen doing sea days or internships, we can certainly look at ways to integrate them into our operations," said Col. Dave A. Roscoe, commander of the 3rd Transportation Support Brigade (expeditionary).
By participating with the Army Reserve maritime operations, the midshipmen can receive credit towards their 300 days at sea and get exposure to the Reserve water capabilities.
The 200th Military Police Command comes into play because of their port security capabilities.
"About two years ago, we sent 22 Soldiers who are port security certified officers and we will probably conduct another training section with some of our other Soldiers to do that again. This just gives us increased leveraged capability as military police in supporting the Army service component commanders and the combatant commanders," said Churn.
An example of a port security mission includes the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point, N.C. Soldiers from the 200th MP Cmd. were responsible for providing the transportation core with the best possible physical security, force protection and law enforcement to directly support safeguarding the critical shipment of DOD ammunition, explosives and other dangerous cargo in support of that mission.
Moving forward, the military police Soldiers have the opportunity to support the 3rd TSB. during the "Big Logistics Over the Shore - East" training event, scheduled for July 2016.
"We are going to be integrating a general support MP platoon into the operations when the exercise moves from permissive to semi-permissive, and we will be doing that very configured force to secure a beach," said Roscoe.
During his visit at the academy, Churn got the opportunity to tour an Army Reserve watercraft. He toured the Logistics Support Vessel-8, named Maj. Gen. Robert Smalls. Churn got the opportunity to interact with the Warrant Officers and enlisted personnel from the 203rd Transportation Detachment who maneuvered the watercraft from Baltimore to Kings Point.
Afterward, Churn sat down with upperclassmen at the academy to enjoy lunch. During the meal, the midshipmen shared the excitement and uneasiness they had about graduation.
"Bloom where you land; listen, learn, and lead," Churn advised the students as they talked.
By their senior year, the midshipmen will choose which branch of service they want to pursue a career with.
"I chose the Army Reserve because I want to be actively involved in a unit and make a difference," said Devin T. Malamphy, a senior at the academy.
The Army Reserve offers midshipmen the opportunity to commission as warrant officers or as second lieutenants. If they choose to commission as lieutenants, they will get the opportunity to gain experience in various fields of the Army Reserve. If they choose to go the warrant officer route, the graduates will get the opportunity to be on a vessel their entire career.
"For those who select the warrant officer program, you're commanding a vessel within two years, whereas other branches of the service, you wouldn't see command of the vessel for seven, eight or nine years," said Roscoe.
Bringing midshipmen, mariners and military police together to successfully execute maritime operations, is possible only through a system of partnership and the type of leader engagement seen during events like these.