Guard Artillerymen Training As MPs to Support Terror War
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2004 The third group of National Guard artillerymen is slated to begin retraining as military police at the Army's Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Jan. 12 to support the war on terror.
Army Lt. Col. Henry R. Evans, commander of the Army Reserve unit conducting the training, said B and C companies of the Illinois National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment, will undergo a four-week class in basic military police skills.
The soldiers are among the first of about 2,200 Army National Guard soldiers to be retrained as provisional military police to conduct patrols, control crowd and direct traffic at military installations in the United States and Germany.
The National Guard Bureau announced the decision last fall to help ease the burden placed on the Army's heavily tapped active and reserve military police corps, much of it deployed overseas in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
In addition, more than 12,000 of the National Guard's 15,000 military police soldiers have been mobilized since Sept. 11, 2001 -- some more than once, according to Col. Frank Grass, chief operations officer for the Army National Guard. Grass said nearly all of the Guard's 82 military police companies have been activated.
In response, the Guard will establish 18 new provisional military police units 14 from field artillery units, one from a transportation unit, and three from combat support units that had already been slated to convert to military police units, Grass said.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Jan. 6 Pentagon briefing that the decision to convert units less likely to be called on in the current security environment and to convert them to much-needed military police "makes eminent sense."
Grass said it demonstrates the flexibility of the National Guard. He said that's something America's citizen soldiers have demonstrated repeatedly since the Minutemen first took up arms to protect their country during mid-1700s and continue to do as they respond to emergencies within their states.
"This shows that the Guard is relevant, viable and adaptable to a changing environment," Grass said. "It fits right in with what we've always done as a National Guard."
So far, four field artillery batteries from the Missouri National Guard have received the training: A and C companies, 1st Battalion, 128th Field Artillery; and A and D companies, 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery.
Troops from the 128th Field Artillery Regiment who made up the first class of artillerymen-turned-military police graduated Dec. 19 and are now serving in their new capacities at Fort Polk, La.
Evans said Army Reservists from the Nashville, Tenn.-based 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 100th Division, are teaching junior enlisted soldiers how to conduct patrols, route reconnaissance and crowd control, set up traffic control points, detain unauthorized persons and work with local law enforcement. The course lasts four weeks.
Noncommissioned officers and officers receive additional training that emphasizes leadership and management as well as military police skills.
At the end of the training, the enlisted soldiers receive the military police job classification, Evans said. Their unit designation changes as well, with "Military Police Provisional," in parentheses, following the unit name.
While the military police specialty involves "a whole different skill set" from those required of artillerymen, Evans said the training runs smoothly because the students "are already seasoned soldiers."
And although they take "great pride in being field artillery soldiers," Evans said most of the students have responded positively to their reclassifications into a new job specialty.
"It hasn't affected their motivation," Evans said. "They're highly motivated soldiers."