News: Army Reserve soldiers prepare for Operation River Assault
Story by Sgt. Michael Crawford
FORT CHAFFEE, Ark. – It was hot. It was humid. Inch-and-a-half-long wasps swarmed around ruined buildings. Somewhere nearby, hostile forces lurked within the friendly village of Lonestar.
Would they ambush the soldiers? Would they try to escape? Were the reports false to begin with? What would happen to the people caught in the crossfire? These are the questions the 94th Military Police Company, based in Londonderry, N.H., faced during their military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) training exercise.
The 94th MPC acts as support for the engineer units here as they build the bridge across the Arkansas River in Operation River Assault. For military police, training for MOUT is highly critical.
“Operations move from woods to towns quickly,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Lee, acting first sergeant for the 94th MPC “Aside from route recon, we lose the most soldiers during urban operations.”
Operation River Assault is an U.S. Army Reserve exercise that focuses on individual, collective and mission-essential training.
“Overseas, going towards a river assault there could be a town right next to a river, and we would clear it of enemy soldiers so that engineers could come in and place equipment,” Lee said. “Taking out Osama bin Laden was a form of MOUT.”
Heading into a town isn’t just about kicking down doors and flushing out the enemy. MOUT training offers soldiers a chance to not only work on their combat skills but people skills and cooperation. Overseas, military police often enter towns to meet with key leaders to understand how the Army can assist their towns.
“What aren’t we required to do well?” Lee laughed. “MP doesn’t stand for military police – it stands for multi-purpose. We do MOUT, law enforcement, area security, convoy security, internal resettlement and corrections.”
“We have multiple missions, not only during training, but we can be called up at any time,” Lee said. “We have various specialties that act as force multipliers during peacetime and war time.”
During Operation River Assault, soldiers with the 94th MPC will mange traffic control points and provide law enforcement support.
“Working on cohesion is the biggest factor,” said 2nd Lt. Chris Walbridge, the platoon leader with the 94th MPC “They need to get practice talking to people and dealing with escalation for civilian control. They know the fundamentals, but putting it into operation is different. Big advantage: they’ve all deployed. It makes my job very easy that they bring a lot of resources to the table.”