Military police unit fights COVID-19 and prepares for deployment

By Master Sgt. Andy Yoshimura | 200th Military Police Command | July 31, 2020

CAMP RIPLEY, Minnesota —

“The reason that they are smiling is because they are beating COVID-19 and training at the same time,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Tyler, the commander of the 327th Military Police Battalion as he glanced toward a bleacher where his Soldiers practiced social distancing while carrying their assigned weapons waiting to fire.

Soldiers from the 327th along with the 822nd Military Police Company and the 79th Military Police Company spent two weeks in Camp Ripley training on their Mission Essential Task List along with familiarizing and qualifying with their assigned weapons during a unit verification process in preparation for an upcoming deployment.

Leaders made every effort in training their Soldiers and at the same time care for their welfare.

“We did not stray from the 200th Military Police Command guidance for COVID-19 mitigation, said Tyler. “The leaders stressed social distancing, hand washing, and face covering.”

Every Soldier within the 327th zeroed and qualified with the M4 Carbine. Most of the military policemen and corrections specialist qualified with either the M9 Pistol or the M17 Pistol as well. Soldiers that hold a Military Occupation Specialty outside those of law enforcement also qualified with a weapons system that they were not familiar with.

“I enjoy learning different weapons systems and being part of a military police unit has been an eye-opening experience,” said Spc. Katrina Chan, a preventive medical specialist with the 327th who qualified with the M320 Grenade Launcher.

“The way I see it is that I am not a liability but an asset as I know these weapons systems,” Chan added.

Soldiers also qualified with the M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System, the M249 Light Machine Gun and the M240B Machine Gun.

The humid weather brought nagging gnats and mosquitoes to Camp Ripley located right next to the Mississippi River. They did not bring the morale down of these warriors from the Midwest.

“Initially, when we first came out, because of COVID-19, the Soldiers were a little bit skittish, but now the Soldiers are loving the Army life,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn Prevost, the command sergeant major of the 327th.

“The Soldiers that are deploying are excited, the ones that are supporting the deployment are excited as well. They are working very well as a team. The morale is really topping out right now,” he added.

Sgt. 1st Class Cody Leisgang, a military policeman from Headquarters, Headquarters Company of the 327th understands that most of the Soldiers within the battalion barely handles military equipment and does not have an opportunity to train on the weapons as much.

“They don’t get to use it, and in the event that they have to deploy, and have to utilize the system, it would be great to know what they are doing and be effective with it,” said Leisgang. “You can tell they enjoy it and it makes us more ready.”

“You can tell some of them are little afraid of it at first but once when they get a chance to fire it, their eyes light up and you can see them get dialed into it and get comfortable with it, it’s good,” Leisgang added.

A week prior to the gunnery, the 327th completed detainee operation using COVID-19 restrictions and received high remarks during their unit validation. Every Soldier also qualified on their assigned during this epidemic.

“I will encourage every commander to train and fully follow the guidance provided by our senior leaders.  We can do both, be safe and train to standard,” added Tyler.

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