News: Military Police support local law enforcement in response to DCRF
Story by Sgt. Ida Irby
FORT POLK, La. -“The military police are here to support civilian authority, not take over the situation,” said Army 2nd Lt. Brittany Bowen, 519th Military Police Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, during a casualty evacuation exercise at Fort Polk. Military police were among 900 Soldiers training to support Task Force Operations as the Department of Defense’s initial response force for a CBRN incident.
The realistic five-day field training was held from Dec. 5 to Dec. 9 in support of the Joint Task Force Civil Support, Defense Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Response Force. The Army trains task forces such as this in unique specialties to assist the community in order to facilitate US citizens after a CBRN occurrence.
Areas of focus for this field exercise were casualty evacuation, search and rescue, mass casualty, trench rescue, rubble removal, hazardous chemical decontamination, medical aid, area reconnaissance, and confined space rescue, all in support of local, state and federal law enforcement and other agencies.
“This U.S. based scenario helps to gauge how active Army soldiers interact with local law enforcement, Federal Emergency Management Agency, incident commanders, the National Guard and most importantly American civilians,” said Bowen. “This is an opportunity for U.S. soldiers to fight to save American lives on American soil.”
Natural disasters bring issues of looting, violence, and civil unrest. MPs assist in areas of mass catastrophe by conducting wellness checks, providing medical aid, and performing area reconnaissance.
“After a disaster, there is often near-fatal injuries, unstable structures, and humanity relief,” said 2nd Lt. John Ballantyne, 204th MP Co, 1st MEB. “The MPs have many assets to support disaster within the continental US, while using as little force as possible we hope to aide in deescalating any negative situations and returning the area to a habitable status.”
With a strong training in law enforcement, ideal support in the community during a CBRN incident would be large crowds, first aid or casualty collection. MPs also act as support for local facilitators and provide food, safety, and wellness to affected civilians.
While conducting training, MPs had to calm a angry mob of role players, using nonlethal tactics, while working with local agencies to triage injured patients and conducting humanitarian efforts.
“The MPs interacted with local law enforcement very well and coordinated with the incident commander to assist the local populous,” said Bowen. “Soldiers thought quickly on their feet in the rainy woodland, by creating central casualty points inside warm military vehicles,” she stated.
“We look forward to working with outside agencies,” said Ballantyne. “Our military police force placed their priorities first during training and the execution of their individual missions were good. The realistic casualties and fatalities in the scenarios helped the soldiers think quickly on their feet.”
1st MEB was joined at Fort Polk by soldiers with the 24th Press Camp Headquarters, Fort Bliss, Texas. The 24th PCH is on mission to deploy in support of the JTFCS to provide public affairs guidance and disperse vital information to the US citizens in response to a national emergency. The training for public affairs focused on coordinating with civilian media, communicating with incident commanders, and conducting media analysis. The public affairs officers prepare commanders and their units for interacting with the media.
For many soldiers, assisting with this DCRF mission is an opportunity to assist the American people in the continental US, which makes this training indispensable for Bowen and her team.