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NEWS | July 17, 2017

Military police command using lessons learned to prepare for unknown

By Story by Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Lazo 200th Military Police Command

FORT MEADE, Maryland – “Where we are going, is not where we have been,” said Maj. Gen. Marion Garcia, Commanding General of the 200th Military Police Command. Garcia’s statement set the tone for her command’s Quarterly Training Briefing conference at Fort Meade, July 15-17, 2017.

Leadership from the command’s subordinate units spread across the nation traveled to Fort Meade to not only brief Garcia and Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Owens, command sergeant major of the 200th MP Command, but to strategize on future needs and missions, and how they all support the U.S. Army Reserve Command’s focus on combat readiness. Garcia consistently reminded attendees that, regardless if they are scheduled to deploy or not, “If we are not prepared to go to war, we will fail.”

Helping to reinforce that, all attendees were given a very unique letter regarding war to read at the start of the conference.

Written by a colonel deploying to the first Gulf War, and intended for his subordinate officers, the letter expressed his lessons learned during his time in the Vietnam War. He stressed that four principles – discipline, sense of mission, respect among Soldiers, and leader competence – were necessary for unit success.

Even though the letter is more than 20 years old, its message can still educate Soldiers of today.

“It’s a good read and it should be pushed down to all levels,” said Master Sgt. Marcus Mitchell, the command sergeant major for the 96th Military Police Battalion.

The conference provided many benefits to Mitchell – particularly from his fellow attendees.

“We get to network,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s the most beneficial – just the networking of it. Because we all get to see what right looks like and we get ideas from other battalions that tend to be successful in things that we may be struggling at.”

Along with networking, leaders were provided several breakout sessions to focus on their specific roles within their units.

Officers heard from Garcia on how to best set their priorities to prepare their units for deployments. Noncommissioned officers heard from Owens, and Military Police Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. James W. Breckinridge, on training at the unit level, advance military schools for their Soldiers, and understanding how they can best prepare their Soldiers and simultaneously support their officers with running their units.

And that’s what Garcia and Owens wanted all their unit leadership to maintain their focus on, the unit.

“You are not training Soldiers to go to war, you are training units,” said Garcia. Units have particular missions, and although some training may seem like a good idea, if it doesn’t support the unit’s mission, it does little to help. “Everyone needs to understand what they do and don’t do during real world operations,” she added.

Owens’ reminder, concise and clear, laid it out very simple, “Focus on training as a unit, a team. It’s the team that goes to war and wins.”