By Zach Morgan, Fort Polk Guardian staff writerMarch 23, 2009
A U.S. Army military police squad rolls into an Iraqi town, pulls security and dismounts its vehicles. Today its mission is to inspect the local police station. Moments later, the squad leader meets the police chief in his office. After several minutes of discussion the chief mumbles and gestures toward the door of his office. A translator says the chief wants the Soldiers to leave. "American Soldiers bring nothing but violence to my town," says the chief. The Soldiers are on a mission, though, and must ensure the local police are maintaining standards and keeping the peace.
This is one of the scenarios Soldiers of the 204th Military Police Company, 519th Military Police Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, faced during training at Peason Ridge March 3. The company is preparing to deploy, focusing on supporting local police with training and oversight.
Sgt. 1st Class Leonard Schreiber, 209th Military Police Company, 519th MP Bn, rode with the
squads and evaluated their performance. "The intent was to see how the Soldiers and squad leaders interact with the local populous," Schreiber said. "They will be talking with local police, and this exercise stresses the importance of communication and building rapport and relationships."
The training proved difficult for the squads but the goal was to strengthen them for their real-life missions. "All three squads that went out today had challenges," Schreiber said. "Some of the Soldiers had done these missions before and some hadn't. The deployment will be a struggle for them, because the police they will be working with are sometimes resistant to outside help." Though the training was tough, the 204th will be ready to meet the challenges of their area of operation when they deploy, said Schreiber.
"Every unit leaves here with strengths and weaknesses," he said. "Eighteen months ago, the 209th had a similar outlook. A lot of the things I've seen out here today are comparable to what we did before we (deployed), and we were successful overseas."
Sgt. Frank Latchford, 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, 204th MP Co, has deployed to Iraq twice and to Afghanistan once. His squad met resistance at the simulated police station and learned some lessons for their deployment. "It was a good training scenario; it helped further us on our way to deployment," Latchford said. "Everything comes with time. We've been progressing slowly but we're working out the kinks -- but there is always something to work on." Latchford reclassed as an MP this year and will have his first chance to apply his MP training when the 204th deploys.
"Some of the MP tasks are new, but the tactical environment is not," he said. Latchford has applied his familiarity with current operations to the current mission. "We'll be good to go when it comes time to deploy," he said.