Fort McCoy News July 14, 2017

Guardian Justice exercise at McCoy

prepares MPs for unexpected

BY SGT. AUDREY HAYES
200th Military Police Command

Lightning cracked and thunder rolled when the skies opened on Fort McCoy, where the 351st Military Police (MP) Company of Ocala, Fla., bunkered down in an imitation Middle Eastern city to wait out a storm June 22.

The company participating in Guardian Justice, a two-week exercise focusing on MP tactical skill sets, was almost at the end of its convoy when the storm rolled in. Much like the weather, in combat situations, unexpected changes can occur at any moment. Guardian Justice prepares U.S. Army Reserve MPs for similar unexpected changes.

This year, the 300th MP Brigade, based in Inkster, Mich., hosted Guardian Justice, which included 16 units and help from two support companies. In charge of the training and planning for Guardian Justice was Maj. Angela Meyer, who structured the training upon the idea that MPs should be ready for any environment combat brings their way.

Army Reserve military police (MP) with the 354th MP Company pf St. Louis participate in reflexive-fire training June 23 during the Guardian Justice at Fort McCoy. Guardian Justice is a functional exercise, broken down into two-week cycles, centered on squad- and team-level training with a focus on internment, resettlement, detainee operations, and combat support.
Army Reserve military police (MP) with the 354th MP Company pf St.
Louis participate in reflexive-fire training June 23 during the Guardian
Justice at Fort McCoy. Guardian Justice is a functional exercise, broken
down into two-week cycles, centered on squad- and team-level training
with a focus on internment, resettlement, detainee operations, and
combat support.
Photo by Sgt. Audrey Hayes

"Guardian Justice focuses on the individual, team, and squad levels," said Meyer. "In years prior, training focused on detainee operations, but recently, we've added combat support, which means we're getting back to the basics of field environments. This means setting up tents, using our radio communications instead of cellphones, using maps instead of (GPS), and we're using our gas masks and MOPP (Mission-Oriented Protective Posture) 4 (a suit that protects from chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear contamination)."

Traditional detainee operations training that took place included biometrics, the in-processing and tracking of prisoners of war, and combatives and stun-gun qualification.

Guardian Justice provided training in convoy operations, land navigation, reflexive fire and military operations in an urban terrain.
The 361st MP Company of Ashley, Pa., recently returned from a detention operations mission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For the 361st, the combat support element of the training is a whole new ball game.

"We're proficient in detainee ops, but now we're transitioning into a combat support unit," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Levey, platoon sergeant with the 361st. "Even though they are both MP functions, they are completely different. With my new responsibility as a platoon sergeant, I'm learning what it takes to successfully move a fully manned convoy, even when Soldiers get pulled to complete other tasks."

With the proper training, Soldiers of all ranks can be ready and capable to step up to the challenge.

Soldiers participate in a Guardian Justice training scenario with a simulated detainee, Wisconsin corrections officer Jodi Beloungy of Mauston, Wis., during exercise operations June 12 at Fort McCoy.
Soldiers participate in a Guardian Justice training scenario
with a simulated detainee, Wisconsin corrections officer
Jodie Beloungy of Mauston, Wis., during exercise operations
June 12 at Fort McCoy.
Photo by Greg Mason

"I went to convoy training and at one point I was assigned convoy commander," said Pvt. Christopher Fongemie, an MP with the 354th MP Company of St. Louis. "I learned how to control everyone, radio up to the TOC (tactical operations center), call EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) for IEDs (improvised explosive devices), and make sure everyone is in line and moving properly."

Perhaps the knowledge sharing that Guardian Justice brings is the key to unit cohesiveness. There was a growing of trust and sound decision making that weaved its way through the ranks of the 300th.

"Battalion commanders are only as strong as their subordinates, and this training is tremendously helping build that trust between them and their junior leaders," said Maj. Julius Austin, the operations officer for the 336th MP Battalion of Pittsburgh. "There's new commanders and new Soldiers who are all getting mentored by their leaders and learning how to make critical decisions."

For new Soldiers like Fongemie, whose company would be on its way within 30 to 60 days if called to duty, building trust is critical for unit cohesiveness.

Staff Sgt. Max Boyd, platoon sergeant with the 354th, said nothing more is important than knowing and being familiar with the people you deploy with, which only happens by training with them.

"I have a lot of reclasses and Soldiers who are fresh out of basic training," said Boyd. "We're getting in a lot of reps out here, and I'm seeing them grow from the individual to the team, squad, and company element."

The likelihood of a private becoming a convoy commander is slim, but should the unexpected happen, the private would be prepared thanks to Guardian Justice.

"We get in this mindset that we are going to be fighting a certain type of army in a specific place, when the reality is we don't know where we're going next, and we don't know what's going to happen," said Meyer. "When we train for specifics, we can forget the unexpected can happen anytime."