News: Military police training military police
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Mark Bell
CAMP MCGREGOR, N.M. – Pepper spray, 50,000 volts of static electricity and 110 degree temperatures are all ingredients of some good old Army military police training.
With assistance from Mother Nature and her unseasonable extreme temperatures, soldiers assigned to the 11th Military Police Brigade spent the summer in the remote desert environment of Fort Bliss, Texas, to equip joint-service military police with the skills to succeed during a mobilization.
From precision communal cell extractions to non-lethal submission techniques, soldiers assigned to Task Force Guardian Justice have trained more than 2,100 soldiers and sailors during 19 training cycles, according to Staff Sgt. Ryan P. Gardiner, an observer, controller and trainer assigned to the 324th Military Police Battalion, based in Fresno, Calif.
Guardian Justice is a multi-month exercise which brings military police from all corners of the U.S. to the El Paso, Texas-based Army installation and fine tunes their military tactics and techniques.
After more than 10 years of active combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq how military police do business in a combat environment and dealing with detainees has changed, said Sgt. 1st Class Joel Andrews, the Guardian Justice non-commissioned officer in charge from Hutchinson, Kan.
“We want soldiers to leave Guardian Justice with more confidence in themselves as soldiers and military police,” he said. “Doing our job is not easy, and we ask our young soldiers to make split-second decisions that could make a good situation turn bad. Here, we are giving them the mental toolbox to succeed both in combat and peace-time operations.”
This year, the responsibility of training the service members fell to the 11th MP Bde., 200th Military Police Command.
Brig. Gen. Scottie D. Carpenter, commander of the Los Alamitos, Calif.-based brigade, said he is proud of both his trainers and units participating in Guardian Justice.
“We have the best non-commissioned officers in the Army Reserve, and it’s their experience, leadership and ‘can do’ attitude that makes this exercise a success,” he said. “The military police corps has always been the top tier of the Army Reserve, and this weekend demonstrates the professionalism of all our soldiers assigned to the 200th Military Police Command.”
Carpenter, who commands more than 2,300 Reserve warriors and his staff, spent a day observing soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 324th Military Police Battalion, based in Fresno, Calif.
With only small shadows from nearby HESCO barriers providing relief from the sun, the 19 soldiers mentally prepared themselves for some minor discomfort in the form of Oleoresin Capsicum – more commonly known as pepper spray.
“This is good Army training,” shouted one soldier waiting in line. “Bring on the OC.”
With their eyes closed, the instructors brought it on in the form of a constant, thick spray above the eyebrow. For a split second all seemed good, and soldiers were unaffected by the fierce solution commonly used to control riots.
That comfort level changed when soldiers opened their eyes, and the instant burning sensation was manifested by their inability to walk forward in a straight line and the tears pouring from their eyes as their bodies attempted expunge the foreign fluid. Shouts of ‘hooah,’ which seemed to mask the temporary pain, filled the air.
Just getting pepper sprayed was too easy for military police. Instead, after receiving the large dose of instant pain, soldiers had to negotiate a five-station obstacle course that required the soldiers to use various non-lethal tactics to take down or repel aggressors.
As Cpl. Carrie Smith, an administrative specialist with 324th MP Bn., gathered her balance and regained partial vision through her squinting eyes, she slowly made her way to Cpl. Damon Vongphachanh, a Guardian Justice instructor from Compton, Calif.
With help from her mentor, Staff Sgt. Eric Angevine, from Westland, Mich., she slowly made her way through various take-down and baton techniques. At the end, and with a hand on Angevine's shoulder for guidance, Smith found her way to relief from the discomfort – baby soap and a stream of cool water.
“I am not a military police (soldier), but I am glad I am going through this training,” said the Lincoln, Calif.-native. “The instructors are doing a great job spending time with us and ensuring we all leave here with a better understanding of the importance of military police operations. You never know, there may be a future for me as a military police (soldier).”
Behind the trigger of the OC spray was Angevine.
“We need them to know the results of their actions,” Angevine said. “It’s important for military police to use the minimum force possible to control a situation. Hopefully, going through this training will help them assess the situation and use the appropriate force necessary for the safety of both the soldier and detainee.”
Angevine, Andrews and other soldiers assigned to Task Force Guardian Justice have spent time overseas working at detention facilities or supporting combat operations, and it’s that experience Carpenter said is invaluable to the training here.
“We must capitalize on our soldiers within our brigade and command,” Carpenter said. “To not use our own experiences would be an injustice to these soldiers here today. I hope they leave here better soldiers and military police. We ask a lot of our soldiers when they deploy, and I personally want to ensure they are the best trained military police in the Army.”