FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- On March 17, the 91st Military Police Battalion deployed the 23rd Military Police Company "Gunslingers" to Fort Knox, Ky., for a field training exercise for 18 days. The training consisted of establishing life support systems and certifying all military police teams on various collective tasks. The company performed training lanes that stressed each team's ability to react to both civilian and enemy threats.

The 23rd MP Company set off on a 12-hour bus to Fort Knox, Ky. "The bus ride was not as bad as everyone expected it to be," said Spc. Nick Libretti. "I was personally more excited to arrive and kick off training."

The Gunslingers arrived at Fort Knox late in the evening. The next day, Soldiers began setting up tents and preparing for two weeks of training.

Members of 1st Platoon had the honor of traveling more than 100 miles away from Fort Knox to train with the 19th Engineer Battalion, where they conducted MP support to a gap-crossing operation. The training demonstrated joint interoperability between engineers and the military police.

A gap-crossing operation is a combined-arms operation to project combat power across a linear obstacle. The ability to support gap-crossing operations is extremely rare in the MP Corps. The 19th Engineer Battalion tasked 1st Platoon Soldiers to provide security for a near-side gap crossing, establish holding areas and call forward areas and move across the gap using dismounted forces on zodiacs and mounted forces on rafts.

Meanwhile, the rest of the 23rd MP Company Soldiers expanded their training focus to become proficient on various tasks at the squad level. Members of 2nd and 3rd Platoons executed numerous missions of maneuver and mobility support. They had an opportunity to train on mounted and dismounted operations in both urban and open terrain to hone skills that will enable them to be successful in squad certifications.

Capt. Brandon Benson, 23rd Military Police Company commander, develops confidence in the leaders' growth every day.

"A lot of the time our team leaders and squad leaders feel that we hold them by the hand on a lot of things," Benson said. "They were forced to learn how to research different tactics and different tasks, and we added fuel to the fire. We have to ensure they accomplish the mission standard.

"As far as binding this training in with the community, if we were ever required to respond to a disaster relief, I have full confidence in my leaders and Soldiers to execute the proper procedure to accomplish the mission," he added.

On April 5, the MP Soldiers redeployed from Fort Knox back home to Fort Drum with an increased skill set and confidence in their ability as professionals.

Pushing Soldiers outside their comfort zone is one of the many steps when preparing them to always be mission ready. The exercise reminded Soldiers that a lot of planning is required to successfully train in an austere environment.

Being placed in a stressful situation -- whether it would be reacting to an improvised explosive device, clearing a room or moving under direct fire -- reminds Soldiers that they are not just trying to only accomplish the mission but also taking initiative in the overall attempt to strive for excellence.