News: Under duress For success
Story by Sgt. Angela Parady
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - A police siren echoes loudly from just feet away, a trainer yells through a megaphone next to him and the sound of his own heart beats in his ears, as he sprints from one objective to the next, stops to draw his weapon and fires at the target downrange.
Soldiers from the 132nd Military Police Company deployed to Kosovo as part of Multinational Battle Group- East in support of the peacekeeping mission here participated in a stress fire exercise. The course, adapted from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, provided realistic training by simulating situations that raised the adrenaline and placed stress on the military police officers.
At a typical firing range, soldiers practice drawing, holstering, and firing a weapon against a static target, usually with little or no external influences. During a stress fire, there is constant movement. A series of physical tasks, constant background noise, sirens, and of course, yelling from the instructor all combine to elevate the firers’ heart rates before they begin firing.
Spc. Kevin Blanton works as a supervisor at an electrical supply company in South Carolina when he is not performing his duties as a traffic accident investigator for the 132nd Military Police Company. The South Carolina guardsman studies criminal justice at Kaplan University, and hopes to work in law enforcement full time.
Blanton said that all the extra training he receives during this deployment, like the stress fire, really helps him prepare for the police academy. He said the emphasis his noncommissioned officers put on this training went above and beyond most of the instruction he has had as an MP.
“The stress fire helps us to know what it feels like to have to shoot when we are under pressure. It helps us learn to think quickly on our feet, and be able to get the job done that we need to do. This training helps us to accomplish our goals, and the mission.”
Sgt. 1st Class Earl Williams, Task Force MP noncommissioned officer in charge, designed the training based off his own training at SCCJA. Most of his soldiers work in other fields on their civilian sides, although many are studying criminal justice. As a result, the only police training many of them have has been provided by the military. By exercising more civilian police training skills, he is not only helping his soldiers perform better here in Kosovo, but he is also helping to set up them up for success when they return home.
Williams wants to make sure his soldiers are knowledgeable about what law enforcement entails, outside of Kosovo and outside of the military.
“It’s not just standing at gates, checking I.D.’s, setting speed traps,” he said. “They need to know that when you are out on the street, your life could be in jeopardy, and you need to know how to defend yourself. You need to know how to use that weapon, know the ins and outs of that weapon, and know what your body can and cannot do with that weapon in your hand.”
The stress fire training started with an MP sitting in his patrol car. While in the car, he received a call for a situation requiring him to respond on foot. With the siren blaring, the MP exited the vehicle and immediately dropped to do pushups. The pushups helped raise his heart rate and added to the adrenaline rush he got for the police call.
Next, the MP’s moved to a shotgun station where they shot through a window at a static target. They reset and ran to the next station, where they shot from behind a wall. From there, they ran around traffic cones to the next objective while Williams stood close by with a megaphone yelling, intentionally adding to the chaos. At the 15 meter target, they fired three rounds kneeling and three rounds standing. Again, they were off and running, moving and shooting at a close range target.
Blanton said the training was a lot of fun. It varied from other military police trainings he had gone through, and made him think in a different way. The exercise helped him see how he reacted in different situations, how he responded to different stress inducers, and how his reaction time changed compared to an average firing range.
“They really get your heart rate up, doing pushups and running around,” said Blanton. “They try to confuse you, they have that siren going. You aren’t paying as much attention to some things as you should be, and then you realize that, you remember the task at hand, and you refocus.”