By Melody Everly, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsOctober 13, 2016
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Oct. 13, 2016) -- Every military occupational specialty has its own unique function as one of many moving parts that must work together smoothly to ensure the success of the Army team. While at times it may seem like members of a unit are just doing their job, the work that they do is crucial to ensuring that their comrades are equipped to safely and effectively perform their own specific roles in support of the bigger mission.
A group of Soldiers from Fort Drum's 511th Military Police Company had an opportunity to see how just how interconnected these roles are as they supported the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion during an exercise last month at Camp Bullis, Texas.
The group was called upon to play the role of a maneuver unit, assisting their MI counterparts in completing a two-week certification course in preparation for deployment this winter, said 2nd Lt. Brandon Mourier, 2nd Platoon leader for the 511th MP Company.
"We went to Camp Bullis on relatively short notice to support this unit as they completed this required certification," he said. "They cannot be certified alone -- they have to have a maneuver unit to help them out, and that is why we were there."
Before the group could even begin to assist in the training, they had to deploy to Fort Hood, where they coordinated and used equipment provided by the 720th Military Intelligence Battalion. Once equipment had been obtained, inspected and secured, the Soldiers drove a convoy of Humvees approximately 150 miles to the training site at Camp Bullis.
This pseudo-deployment process was a great learning opportunity for younger Soldiers within the group, said Sgt. 1st Class John Atnip, platoon sergeant.
"Just the process we went through to basically deploy our Soldiers and all the steps in between -- that's something these Soldiers have never experienced before," he said. "Just that aspect -- accounting for the weapons we took with us, going to another unit and drawing additional vehicles and equipment and driving a longer distance in a convoy -- the whole process will be very beneficial when it comes time to actually deploy units."
During the exercise, MI personnel were given a series of missions to complete. Just as these missions varied on a daily basis, so too did the mission of the 511th MP Company Soldiers, Atnip said.
"Once they put their mission together and briefed their Soldiers, it was our job to escort the MI teams safely to a specific location," he said.
The MP teams provided security as they drove the units to and from a remote location where a mock village had been set up, complete with costumed role players, some of whom spoke Arabic dialects to provide another level of complexity during the missions. While the MI team was being evaluated, the MP Soldiers performed different roles, dependent upon the requirements of the day's mission.
"Once we were in place, our mission for that day might be presence patrol," Atnip said. "We would walk around the mock village, talking to these role-playing civilians as the military intelligence Soldiers gathered their information. We provided security so that they could focus on their job, and we also were able to interact with the role players."
In watching the MI Soldiers gather information, members of the 511th MP Company were able to see how this intelligence was assessed and used to plan for other units that might be working within the same location.
"The information they gathered from the role players helped them to get a clearer picture of the area and the local populous so that they had a better idea of what they were dealing with," Atnip said. "This is very realistic in terms of what they would do in a deployed setting."
Atnip said that having the opportunity to see this process in action was enlightening for him and his Soldiers.
"When we receive orders, we don't always think about the work that goes into making sure we have all the intelligence we need," he said. "It helped us to see what their mission is in a deployed setting. Their role is to help us -- to gather the information we need to accomplish our objectives."
Spc. Joseph Lamoureux said that both the MI and MP Soldiers learned a great deal about working together throughout the exercise. He explained that having to adapt their usual standard operating procedures to accommodate a variety of mission objectives was something new and different to him and many members of the MP team.
"It was different working together as two different MOSs," he said. "We do things one way, and they do things a different way. We had to learn to come together and work as a team."
This ability to work cooperatively with other units is essential to successful mission accomplishment, Mourier said.
"Our Soldiers really learned a lot about integrating and adapting to working with other teams," he said. "They may not work specifically with MI teams when they deploy, but they are going to be working with other units who have missions different from our own."
Military intelligence Soldiers also had an opportunity to learn room clearance from the MP Soldiers -- a skill that could prove beneficial to them in a deployed environment, Lamoureux said.
"We were able to use our special reaction team training to help them learn room clearing," he said. "You never know when they might be in a situation where they can't wait for an MP team and they will have to enter a building and clear it out."
Squad leaders and Soldiers alike also had ample opportunity to develop leadership and critical thinking practices -- skills that will be useful to them as they prepare to begin their upcoming training rotation, Mourier said.
"By the end, we were all working together, and everyone had learned a lot," he said. "The younger Soldiers had learned more about understanding the bigger picture -- not just about their roles and objectives, but the 'why' piece of their mission. The experience has definitely helped us all become better Soldiers and increased our readiness capabilities."