WASILLA, Alaska – Soldiers with the Alaska Army National Guard’s 297th Military Police Company conducted pre-mobilization training at the Alcantra Armory in Wasilla April 30 in preparation for a scheduled deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in support of the global war on terrorism.
The training consisted of checkpoint security, detainee cell extraction techniques, combat patrols, outpost set up and escort protocols.
“With our upcoming deployment to Guantanamo Bay, this is the type of stuff that we need to train on to prepare ourselves,” said Sgt. Edward Wingert, a military policeman with the 297th Military Police Company, Alaska Army National Guard.
The armory was set up to resemble a mock detention center. The motor pool became a prison yard complete with razor wire lining the compound and role players acting as detainees. Along the yard were guard towers with soldiers peering across the sights of their machine guns to watch for any escape attempts by the detainees.
In a room set up as a cell, one soldier donned a padded suit to role play as an uncooperative detainee who refused the commands of the MPs during a cell extraction scenario. When the team leader of the extraction team ordered the detainee to get on the ground and he refused, they rushed in and subdued him. With the detainee on the ground, the team leader gave commands to the five-person team, taking control of the detainee.
“Communication is very key in this scenario,” Wingert said.
Each of the team members has a specific task when dealing with a noncompliant detainee, explained Wingert. These tasks include carrying a shield, filming the encounter as evidence, and pre-determining which team member controls the head, arms and legs of the detainee.
At the entrance of the compound, a checkpoint was constructed to practice running an entry control point.
“All vehicles and personnel get searched,” said Sgt. 1st Class Derrick Green, a military policeman with the 297th Military Police Company, Alaska Army National Guard.
The soldiers manning the entry control point meticulously searched the vehicles for contraband and questioned the vehicle’s occupants on what their purpose for visiting the detention center was while their credentials were verified.
“It’s absolutely critical that soldiers are detail oriented because we train as we fight,” Green said. “Down in Guantanamo, soldiers are going to be expected to be detail oriented. There are going to be a lot of eyes on us, so we have to enforce those standards here.”
During one scenario, a soldier role-played as a hostile driver and was subsequently detained by the guards at the gate. When the driver failed to comply with the guards’ commands, they put him on the ground and cuffed him while radioing up to their command about the situation. After the scenario ended, they discussed what was done correctly and what they could do to improve.
“I’m most impressed by the level of motivation of the soldiers and also by the level of knowledge of the trainers that came out here,” Green said. “Today’s event was actually high speed.”
“Within this company, every soldier who I’ve spoken to wants to represent the Guard and represent it well,” Green said. “When we go down there with our active-duty counterparts, we just want to make Alaskans proud.”
The soldiers of the 297th Military Police Company are scheduled to deploy to Guantanamo Bay this fall.