MP School Infuses Combat Realism into Training
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo., Jun. 20, 2005 Recognizing that many of their students are likely to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan within three or four months of leaving here, the cadre at the U.S. Army Military Police School is stepping up the curriculum to infuse as much realism as possible, the school's director of training told the American Forces Press Service.
Students at the U.S. Army Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., are getting critical training in both military police and combat skills they'll need when they deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"It's important that we give every single soldier here the critical tasks they'll need, so they're prepared by the time they leave," Army Lt. Col. Wade Dennis from the MP School's Directorate of Training and Leadership Development said.
That's a tall order, Dennis acknowledged, considering the breadth of the military police missions being carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom are putting MPs to task on all five of their traditional missions, he explained. MPs are setting up and running enemy-prisoner-of-war operations; they're conducting patrolling and reconnaissance missions; they're providing convoy- and route-security operations, which range from escorting convoys to setting up checkpoints to manning roadblocks; they're carrying out basic law enforcement operations, while helping to train Iraq's new police force; and they're supporting police intelligence operations, "trying to paint a true picture of what's going on," Dennis said.
While ensuring newly minted military police are trained to carry out any of these missions, the school is also putting heavier emphasis on basic skills troops will need to survive in combat. "We're training in the same functions we've always trained in," Dennis said. "We're just giving them a lot more of it."
Training has taken on a heightened sense of realism. Students spend more time training in the military-operations-in-urban-terrain "village" and conduct convoy live-fire operations. Their practical exercises are based on lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in most cases, taught by instructors who have just returned from deployments.
In addition, students are getting more weapons training than ever before and no longer turn in their weapon at an arms room at the end of a training day. "Now they keep it with them 24/7," just as they will when they deploy, Dennis said. "It becomes who they are."
The goal, Dennis said, is to develop "a better trained, more confident soldier" who's prepared to carry out whatever MP mission the ground commander might need.
While focusing on basic combat and military police skills at the junior level, the MP School is also working to develop leaders who can think on their feet and win their troops' confidence. Noncommissioned officers and officers are getting more "thinking exercises" that expose them to scenarios similar to what they'll likely face in Iraq. Often they're forced to make decisions faster or with less information than they'd like while being "bombarded with stressors," Dennis said.
"We're putting them into mental situations where we teach them to think and adapt to situations," he said. "Our goal is to develop out-of-the-box, agile-thinking leaders."
This battle-focused training is helping prepare MPs for the challenges they will face when they deploy, he said, and for many of the students, reinforces lessons they've already learned. Dennis estimates that 75 to 80 percent of the school's non-commissioned officer and officer students have already served in Iraq -- a percentage he expects to increase in the future.
"We're building on the lessons being learned on the battlefield and using them to help develop them as soldiers and as leaders," Dennis said.
Young enlisted soldiers enrolled in the school deserve the best leadership the Army can give them, he said.
"These young privates have all volunteered to be here, and they know what they're getting into," Dennis said. "They need to have trust in their leadership and in their training. And it's our job to ensure that they have both."