JOINT BASE LEWIS McCHORD, Wash., -- Most days he is a team leader in a military police platoon. Today he steps up to the plate and takes over as squad leader for his team. Utilizing the training received from his leadership, the average onlooker would never guess that today is his first time as squad leader.

Sgt. Hannibal Acosta-Alicea, a military police specialist and native of Kissimmee, Fla., and Soldiers assigned to the 170th Military Police Company, 504th MP Battalion, 42nd MP Brigade sharpened their troop leading skills during a field training exercise Jan. 10th at JBLM.

The training exercise is in preparation of a scheduled rotation to the National Training Center and in anticipation of a future deployment to Afghanistan.

The exercise began Jan. 3 with basic troop leading procedures and culminated on Jan. 10 and 11 when squads were evaluated by platoon leaders based on performance during combat scenarios such as; securing and responding to improvised explosive devices, conducting reconnaissance and surveillance, gathering intelligence, setting up tactical check points and performing as a quick reaction force while engaging the enemy during simulated live fires.

The command was pleased with Acosta's performance during the field exercise.

"Sgt. Acosta is a warrior that every commander loves to see in his formation, he is an intelligent and tactically proficient warrior who is aggressively
dedicated to mission accomplishment," said Andrew Sergent, commander of the 170th. "His skills will ensure our Military Police Soldiers are successful on the battlefield and here at home."

Sgt. Acosta-Alicea and bravo team effortlessly navigate the first two squad lanes. While patrolling a fictitious village as part of a three vehicle convoy, his team gathered intelligence by questioning a village elder. Upon leaving the village they encountered an improvised explosive device. They immediately secured the device until an explosive ordinance disposal unit could respond.

"This is my first time as a squad leader," said Acosta-Alicea. "I am learning to let my team leaders think for themselves."

2LT MacKenzie Duncan, 1st platoon leader, assigned to the 170th is the observer controller and access's the squad's proficiency during the exercise.

"Sgt. Acosta is a team leader who was chosen to fill in as a squad leader," said Duncan. "This sudden change in responsibility for him has been challenging to grasp during the lanes, but we have stood by to help assist and provide direction. By the second week of this field exercise, you wouldn't know it was only his second week as a Squad Leader."

Under the guidance of Acosta-Alicea, bravo team was successful during the quick reaction force lane. The squad provided security for friendly forces under simulated enemy contact by returning enemy fire and towing a disabled vehicle. Sgt Acosta-Alicea gave his team leaders the appropriate orders; ensuring that all returned to the tactical operations center safely.

"The more hands-on training we do the more proficient we become and this makes it possible for everyone to make it home," said Acosta-Alicea.

Part of the military police mission is to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance and provide security for troops during combat situations. The 170th ensures that its troops are ready for any mission by rehearsing troop leading procedures until they become second nature.

"Don't be nervous, follow your training," said Acosta-Alicea. "Every team leader has the same training as every squad leader. Step up and train as you fight."