News: Underdogs with overwhelming capabilities
Story by Sgt. Anthony Kirby
POHANG, South Korea - It is normal to think of handcuffs, speeding tickets and flashing lights when thinking of law enforcers, but a day spent following military police can erase that misconception in an instant.
Marines and sailors of 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, showed off some of their unique capabilities during the combined arms and amphibious exercise dubbed Ssang Yong 2014 at Pier 9 in Pohang, Republic of Korea April 3.
The battalion, which is only two-years-old, is doing many things to show their worth and value to the commander.
“The biggest thing is getting the word out to the different units that we have here, so we are able to free up other Marines so they can focus on the main mission,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Dustin L. Wilcox, commanding officer of Company C, 3rd LE Bn.
LE Bn is participating at Pier 9 as part of exercise Ssang Yong, meaning twin dragons, which exercises the interoperability and combined capability of ROK and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces. The exercise provides valuable military training based on realistic requirements and missions expected of ROK and U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula, and also gives an opportunity to Marines of LE Bn to practice multiple mission sets.
During Ssang Yong 14, the battalion has been taking care of logistical convoys, pier security operations, and unloading Landing Craft Air Cushion vessels.
The battalion’s primary mission is to conduct law and order operations in order to enhance the security environment and promote the rule of law in support of Marine Air-Ground Task Force operations, but that mission encompasses a broad spectrum of operations and tasks.
Their operations include movement and mobility support, area security, law and order, limited internment and resettlement as well as police intelligence. All of these varied capabilities enable units to whom LE Bn is attached to maintain their training tempo and focus on their own primary missions.
“Whenever people think about military police, they only think about the security of the base or something of that nature,” said U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Alvison J. Lee, the Gunnery Sgt. for Company C. “However, we’re very mobile, and we have a lot of fire power to bring to the table.”
LE Bn’s fire power includes mounted M240B medium machine guns, MK19 40 mm automatic grenade launchers, and M2 Browning .50-caliber machine guns to name a few.
Aside from Ssang Yong, 3rd LE has supported other exercises in the Republic of Korea on numerous occasions such as Korean Marine Exchange Program and plans to be at future exercises like Balikatan in the Philippines, both of which are regularly scheduled combined training exercises.
This is the battalions’ first time participating in Ssang Yong and Freedom Banner. Freedom Banner focused on exercising maritime prepositioning ship offloading capabilities, which LE Bn was able to contribute to with security during convoy operations along many hundreds of miles of Korean highways.
“I think we’ve opened up a lot of eyes as far as what we’re capable of doing,” said Lee. “Next year, when we do this again, there will probably be more opportunities for others to use what we have to offer.”
The experience has been great practice for the battalion and a good opportunity for them to make a difference for the commanders of the exercise, according to Wilcox.