FORT POLK, La. – Soldiers of the 91st Military Police Detachment and 50th Military Working Dog Detachment conducted a Law Enforcement Weapons Training and Qualification (LEWTAQ), and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) range Sept. 25-27, 2022, at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
The LEWTAQ is designed to prepare and test a military police Soldier’s ability to engage threatening subjects in realistic scenarios. Soldiers must shoot while moving from varying distances, conduct weapons and magazine changes, and hit specific areas of a target. There are 12 rifle and 11 pistol iterations. All firing tables are timed, with the shortest being 1.5 seconds. This training ensures the Soldiers are ready, disciplined, and fit to perform their military police duties.
“You need to be able to make those split-second decisions,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Smith, the Military Police Investigations Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of 91st MP Detachment. “When a threat is present, you will need to be able to draw from the holster without presenting your weapon fully and aiming down the site. You need to be able to shoot the target directly in front of you in the scenario so it won’t be able to fight back.”
There is also a move and shoot portion where Soldiers start at a 10-meter line and move forward, Smith said. That is to simulate a Soldier coming on scene and must move towards someone, and the subject becomes hostile as the Soldiers gets closer. For the immediate engagement at the three-meter line, the Soldier has 1.5 seconds to react. The Soldier has to draw from the holster and fire a round center mass into the target.
“You have to respond quickly as if you were in the same real-life situation,” said Spc. Lanah Letz, a Military Working Dog Handler with 50th MWD Detachment. “It is all about getting that muscle memory down.”
The LEWTAQ was developed in part to engage a subject at close ranges, Smith said. This can include people who may not be hostile now but may turn hostile. This is why the Soldiers are tested on drawing their weapon from the holster and firing at the target. The Soldiers need to be able to effectively engage in an ever-changing environment.
In addition to the LEWTAQ, the 91st MP Detachment and 50th Military Working Dog Detachment had Soldiers wear an M50 protective mask while firing.
“I believe the CBRN range is very important to the mission due to the fact that we need the confidence and ability to both don our equipment and be effective in a firefight,” said Smith. “Soldiers learn how to quickly don their mask and adjust it so they can still engage a hostile force.”
Soldiers become aware of how the cheek to stock ratio changes as well as their ability to see, Smith said. The visibility through the mask as well as the contour of the lens might require Soldiers to adjust their sight picture so they can properly engage.