By G. Anthonie Riis | Fort Knox NewsOctober 16, 2018
It was announced Oct. 15 that Fort Knox's 34th Military Police Detachment, in concert with the 905th Working Dog Detachment, won the Brigadier General David H. Stem Award, which is awarded to most outstanding U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command military police unit.
The 34th MPs will receive its trophy during a ceremony in November or December, a TRADOC command provost marshal official said. This will also mark the second time in as many years that the unit has received this distinction for outstanding accomplishments both in and out of ranks.
"It's a culmination of things; they're really looking at our overall performance over the whole fiscal year," Capt. Mark Swisher, 34th Military Police Detachment commander said. "There are 15 different areas they look at -- to include assessments of our training, how we've [maintained and accounted] for our equipment, weapons qualifications, physical fitness, civilian education, and both unit and individual awards.
"[We've added a unit safety excellence banner for winning the Unit Safety Excellency Award for fiscal 2018 and one of the highest annual inspection ratings for our military police dog program."
Swisher said his troops' actions outside the uniform also gave his unit an edge on the competition.
"[Our Soldiers] continue to do their jobs well, but [what sets them apart] is that they build good interaction with the community by volunteering their time outside of work."
"One of the sections [for the award] is Foundations of Excellence, and we highlight Soldier contributions to Fort Knox and the local community," he said. "This is the climate of our unit. These Soldiers' attitudes toward care for the community … contributed to our success."
From cleaning up trash along the detachment's adopted highway, to volunteering to host Cub Scouts visiting the Army post, to assisting during a serious traffic accident off the post, Soldiers of the 34th have placed a high premium on the human factor, said Swisher.
"The Stem Award is for detachments, and we competed against all the other detachments within TRADOC," Swisher said. "Now that we've won, our packet [with some modification] is sent up [to compete] for the J.P. Holland award at 'big' Army level. That's where we will compete Army-wide against all MP units who won [the Stem award] in their region.
"Last year, we placed second for the Holland Award, but we've got a good shot at winning that [one] this year, too."
Soldiers do award-worthy things all the time, but Swisher said that if leaders aren't promoting those things it's as if Soldiers didn't do them.
"It's not only doing these things, it's also taking the time to take care of the preliminaries of getting the packet together," Swisher said. "It's all about [emphasizing] your Soldiers' accomplishments as well. Leaders need to highlight the key things they did."
Having stellar Soldiers and leaders who will showcase their actions seems to be the 34th's recipe for success, Swisher said.
"What they do at work and on their free time show the caliber of who they are, and this group effort wins individual awards," Swisher said. "This develops a unit pride across the board which brings everybody together.
"We're shooting for the stars this year. We want to win the best [MP] unit in the Army. That's our aim."