By Rick Emert, Fort Carson MountaineerApril 30, 2009
FORT CARSON, Colo. - A Fort Carson unit was presented the Brig. Gen. Jeremiah P. Holland Award, April 23, as the best military police company in the Army.
The 59th Military Police Company, 759th Military Police Battalion, won the award for fiscal year 2008. The unit spent 15 months in Iraq, from July 7, 2007-Sept. 26, 2008, training and recruiting the country's police force and conducting combat patrols, according to 1st Lt. Nicole Fogel, formerly a platoon leader with the 59th but now the 984th Military Police Company Rear Detachment commander.
Brig. Gen. Rodney L. Johnson, U.S. Army provost marshal, presented the award to the 59th in a ceremony at the Special Events Center on Fort Carson.
"What did the 59th do to earn the J.P. Holland award' I will tell you basically by performing in an excellent manner every day, 365, 24/7," said Johnson in remarks at the ceremony. "They executed the difficult and strategically important police training mission in Baghdad's (Mada'in Qada) District. They recruited over 1,900 Iraqi police and advised over 1,000 others, effectively safeguarding the Iraqi people. To this day, they continue to provide successful armed service support to the Fort Carson community."
The win for the 59th came after boards of senior military police leaders reviewed the unit's book-sized packet at each level from battalion up to Army level.
The packet included information and photos on everything from education and awards to training and the missions the Soldiers performed, according to Master Sgt. Kelly Kowalski, operations sergeant for the 59th.
The training portion included the fact that nearly half of the company scored 270 points or higher on the Army physical fitness test and 98 percent of the unit passed the APFT.
The unit's awards during the deployment included 11 Army Commendation Awards with Valor and Purple Hearts for two Soldiers killed early in the deployment, Fogel said.
While deployed to Iraq, the 59th was responsible for recruiting and training Iraqi policemen, Fogel said.
The mission was fraught with both challenges and rewards. The MPs had to coordinate with an infantry unit to beef up security at the recruiting sites and provide additional patrols. Iraqi police, with overwatch from the MPs, set up checkpoints on roads leading to and from the sites, Fogel said.
"We took the security measures, but, surprisingly, (Iraqis) were very supportive of the whole recruiting of the police," Fogel said. "The mentality just changed so much from the beginning where they were scared to be Iraqi police to the end where they were proud to be Iraqi police. That was ... a rewarding thing, because that's the security that the community looks for. Once they have confidence in their police, they can have the actual confidence in their community."
Once the recruits were selected, the training began. It was no easy task for the MPs.
"My first goal going to the Iraqi police station was just to get them to show up in uniform," Fogel said.
With that accomplished, the training moved in phases with the new Iraqi police accompanying the MPs on missions until they were confident and competent enough to conduct the missions on their own.
"By the end, they were doing it all themselves. We would stand back. If they needed anything, any advice or whatever, I'd be there or my squad leaders would be there. By the end, they were the ones doing everything, and that was the cool part. It was rewarding."
It also meant long shifts for the MPs - sometimes 20 hours a day. Despite the long, stressful shifts, the Soldiers still found time for military and civilian education programs, a fact that may have impressed the Army level J.P. Holland award board members, Fogel said.
Although many of the Soldiers have moved on to new units or installations - including Fogel - each of the MPs assigned to the unit during the award period gets an Army Achievement Medal. And, bragging rights.
"To be the recipient of this is just another way to say not only did you do a phenomenal job, but thank you for everything that you sacrificed; thank you for joining the military ... thank you for the sacrifices your Family made; thank you for everything," Kowalski said. "It's not necessarily the seniors or leaders that did everything, because without the Soldiers and everything that they did on a daily basis, none of this would have been possible."
Johnson said the unit set a standard that all MP companies should strive to meet.
"The 59th has clearly done all they were asked to do in war, and the Soldiers of the 59th clearly exemplify everything that is right about the MP Corps in our Army," Johnson said. "They are richly deserving of the honor of being named the 2008 recipient of the 39th Brigadier General J.P. Holland Award."