CAMP KOSCIUSZKO, Poland – Louisiana National Guard soldiers from the 773rd Military Police Battalion on a current deployment integrated with local military and civilian police forces and established force protection measures for V Corps' areas of responsibility in the European theater.
"Our purpose for being here is to continue force protection and establish law enforcement operations where we have military police throughout Victory Corps' area of operations," said Lt. Col. Doris Reed, battalion commander of LAANG 773rd Military Police Battalion.
Before June 22, 2023, the day the battalion assumed command in Poland due to an emergent request, soldiers had five months' notice to prepare their families, loved ones and lives.
In their first quarter, the Bulldogs professionally answered the mission's needs and positively impacted relations with NATO allies and partners and local communities.
The battalion manages soldiers from Tennessee National Guard's 251st Military Police Company "Defenders;" New York National Guard's 222nd Military Police Company "Spartans;" and an active-duty U.S. Army component, the 591st Military Police Company "Iron Spartans," from Fort Bliss, Texas and maintains the military police forces across V Corps' operational areas in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Their first milestone was integrating the 773rd MP Battalion with the host nation's police forces.
"At each location where we have military police, the expectation is that we launch joint training and patrols with the host nation police forces," Reed said. "The partnership might be with the host nation's civilian police department or military police."
The LAANG 773rd MP Battalion at Camp Kosciuszko works with the Military Gendarmerie or, in Polish, Żandarmeria Wojskowa. The ZW is a police force established in 1990 in Poland as a specialized service to the Polish armed forces.
"Cooperation between ZW and the U.S. military police improved due to the 773rd Military Police Battalion's involvement," said Lt. Phillip Dudeck, an officer assigned to the ZW Polish Military Police unit in Poznan.
He said consistent communication and planning resulted in a full calendar of training and operations.
"There are techniques and tactics we use in the Polish environment with people that differ from those of the U.S. due to the country's laws," said Dudek. "On common ground, we need to work together for greater matters."
The 773rd MP Battalion and Polish ZW military police created a relationship for a productive way forward.
"We conduct joint training with the ZW and share tactics," Reed said. "For example, we share law enforcement procedures, felony stop procedures, handcuffing techniques, and how U.S. Army military police respond to different situations."
Dudeck mentioned that the U.S. Army military police have more experience with a population carrying weapons and felony apprehension, whereas ZW Polish military police do not have the same experiences.
Reed added that the 773rd MP Battalion continues to learn and understand how the Polish Military Police conduct operations.
"Lessons we learn from each other improve tactical proficiency, technical compatibility, and overall interoperability," Reed added.
773rd MP Battalion, in conjunction with host nation police forces, improves force protection by conducting base patrols, providing security for local events, and managing incidents with U.S. Army soldiers and property at forward operating sites.
Reed said when the Bulldogs started this deployment, U.S. military police were operating from eight locations, and the law enforcement and reporting procedures were inconsistent throughout the area of operations.
"In four months, we expanded our presence to 14 locations," Reed said. "That is a huge milestone for us to not only expand our footprint at each location but also establish an MP desk for centralized and uniform reporting procedures."
Reed said this ensures that when incidents happen, an MP desk reports them correctly and sends them to a centralized provost marshal office.
She added that the reporting protocol informs leaders of incident trends and creates a comprehensive picture for V Corps of what is happening around their area of operations.
"The prior unit laid the foundation for reporting procedures," Reed said. "773rd MP Battalion arrived here and began maturing reporting procedures that would keep everyone informed of security issues across the area of operations and allow us to make decisions as leaders how to, number one, keep our soldiers safe, keep information safe, and help advance priorities."
Another milestone is the number of successful military escort missions since the 773rd MP Battalion claimed responsibility.
Ensuring reliable delivery of necessary assets to forward-deployed troops is critical to mission success. The 773rd MP Battalion approached these concerns seriously, Reed said.
"Since we arrived, we have increased the number of escort missions performed previously by an MP battalion -- We are not even at the halfway point of our tour, and we have tripled the numbers," Reed said. "Since our MPs have been executing escort missions, we've had no reports of missing property or theft of sensitive items."
Their success in maintaining security during escort operations also positively impacts the local police, Reed said. The 773rd MP Battalion's involvement has already decreased incidents and thefts and the need for host nation police intervention.
The mission is unique for the LAANG, and each soldier's experiences, training, and civilian professional skills are vital and enable the battalion to excel.
The Bulldogs come from all over Louisiana. The best of the state's law enforcement and emergency service responders create the battalion's talent pool.
"This is an incredible opportunity for our soldiers, including myself," said U.S. Army Spc. Ejay Raposo, military police soldier assigned to the 773rd MP Battalion. "Never in a million years did I ever think I would live and work day-to-day in Europe."
In his hometown, Raposo works as a full-time patrol officer with the Leesville City Police Department in Vernon Parish, Louisiana. His duties with the patrol division are performing law enforcement functions and protecting citizens.
"I take great pride in my law enforcement career," Raposo said. "My military and civilian law enforcement occupations do draw some correlations."
Now deployed, Raposo focuses on his contributions to the military police mission by enabling the battalion to interact, communicate, and collaborate with military police, U.S. and multinational agencies, and organizations' security forces in the six countries bordering Ukraine.
"I am the battalion's driver," Raposo explained. "I am responsible for getting Lt. Col. Reed and Command Sgt. Maj. Walker from point "a" to point "b" during all mission operations. We travel the European theater to forward operating sites and mission-critical areas managing law enforcement operations from the Baltics to the Black Sea."
He said that his role in theater circulation and interactions with military police at all the forward operation sites gives him a perspective on the scope of the battalion's mission and its benefits to his peers and himself.
"I see soldiers building solid relationships with host nation partners and strengthening interoperability through joint training," Raposo said. "We have a lot of engaged leaders and junior enlisted personnel committed to working at higher levels than anticipated."
Raposo said traveling for the 773rd MP Battalion's mission is eye-opening.
"Especially for those living in the United States their whole lives and never traveling abroad," Raposo said.
He expressed that travel is a valuable experience for soldiers across the organization to see other countries and learn about local culture and history.
"The European theater is hopefully a reoccurring tour offered to the MPs and all Louisiana National Guard soldiers," Raposo said.
LAANG military police are frequently deployed state-wide during natural disasters. He said their expertise in law enforcement operations also helps fortify the U.S. military prison GITMO in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and overseas deployments in areas such as Kuwait.
"These opportunities and experiences help retain personnel and are a valuable tool to promote recruitment,“ Raposo said.
Battalion leadership encourages cultural immersion to develop soldiers' professional skills.
"We started cultural immersion days for our soldiers while here," said Command Sgt. Maj. Verdis Walker, command sergeant major of the 773rd MP Battalion.
Walker said it is vital for everyone to understand and learn how people live and think in areas the battalion is supporting.
"We highly encourage our soldiers to get out and learn the area's culture. Learn how citizens feel about the country where they live, study their ways, and learn about their values," Walker said. "We want to know those things and more about the people."
He emphasized that focusing on these nuances enhances force interoperability.
"Knowing the heart is knowing the mind," Walker said. "If we have to fight side-by-side for the same cause, it is a lot easier if you understand where their hearts stand."