Protect & Defend

By CPT Gretchen ButtNovember 20, 2018

Back and forth, I paced the floor of my dorm room at Boston College.

I was a senior and facing down branching. Finally, when the phone call came

in, I was overwhelmed with joy. I was going to be a part of the greatest branch

in the Army. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a police officer. Then when

September 11, 2001 happened, my dreams shifted towards something larger. I

still loved law enforcement, but I wanted to serve in the military as well. What

separates the Military Police from every other branch is that we serve those

who chose to serve. We embody our motto, "Of the Troops, For the Troops".

Military Police enable other units' commanders to conduct their missions. We

preserve their fighting force and secure their installations or other critical areas.

There is no other Maneuver, Fire, and Effects (MFE) Branch where

Soldiers accomplish its mission both deployed and in garrison. Soldiers are

expected to utilize deployed skills during garrison operations. When Military

Police are not deployed, they still have a full-time mission of providing law

enforcement, investigations, and corrections experts. Military Police Soldiers

have to employ their tools and skills in order to defuse high risk situations. The

biggest asset that Military Police have is their ability to interact with people.

Whether it's a routine traffic stop, a domestic dispute, conducting an interview,

or daily interactions with the prison populace, these Soldiers master the art of

communication and interpersonal tact. Military Police Soldiers are some of the

most professional, intelligent, and skilled Soldiers in the Army. The trust and

responsibility given to even the lowest ranking Soldier is far beyond their peers

in other branches. What other branch gives a private the discretion to make on

the spot decisions that could have severe consequences? This is an everyday

occurrence for that Military Police Private. Military Police Soldiers face being

the first on scene to a "shots fired" call or the only Correctional Specialist on

the block during a prison riot. In the blink of an eye a situation can escalate

and these Soldiers have to make split second decisions.

These principles apply exponentially for the Military Police Lieutenant. As

a Platoon Leader, you have more responsibility than any other branch in the Army.

While deployed, Military Police usually operate at the platoon, sometimes even

down to the squad level. This means that as a junior leader, you are charged with

providing guidance and leadership while separated from the rest of the company.

Often times, you are the subject matter expert on all Military Police capabilities and

limitations to senior combatant commanders. In a garrison environment, junior

officers act as Military Police Duty Officers. They make decisions about law

enforcement that can impact the entire installation. In the event of a large incident,

you don't have the guarantee that a senior leader will be there to take over. You have

to act and make decisions based on your training and expertise. It is critical for

incoming officers to be able to exercise this type of initiative. You have to be

headstrong, dedicated to your profession, and hungry to continue to learn. The best

officers that I have ever worked for have been those who were lifelong learners and

strove for those positions that they may not have any experience in, in order to

diversify and learn. The Military Police Corps is filled with these types of officers

because of the many different mission sets that we conduct.

It is hard for me to pin point exactly what makes the Military Police Corps

the best branch there is. I can talk about the multitude of different weapon systems

and equipment that give us both lethal and non-lethal capabilities, but what makes

the Military Police Corps so amazing are the intangible elements. Things like the

rush of adrenaline you get when you hear a call come over the radio, the comradery

built from enduring another long midnight shift, and the pride you have when you

see flags with the thin blue line. The Military Police Corps may be small, but it has

one of the most important missions to the Army. Without it, the Army would not

be able to accomplish its mission to fight and win our nation's wars.