FORT McCOY, Wis. – More than 600 military police Soldiers trained together this August during one of the largest combat support training exercises of the year run by the U.S. Army Reserve.
Military Police specialize in detainee operations, such as securing enemy prisoners of war, but they also safeguard and feed displaced civilians who lose their homes during times of war.
The training exercise, also known as CSTX, combines Army Reserve units from various functions and specialties into a single “battlefield” to improve their overall combat readiness to deploy. CSTX runs multiple cycles and locations each year, typically in Wisconsin, California and New Jersey. This particular cycle included more than 12,000 service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps and forces from six partnering nations. Units on the ground specialized in every combat support function: engineering, defending against chemical warfare, logistics, transportation, water purification and more.
“CSTX has exercised my units in both their military occupational specialty roles as military police, and in basic survivability on a lethal battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Edward Diamantis, commander of the 310th MP Battalion.
In addition to their basic functions, all Army Reserve units were expected to train on their battle drills, base defense, survivability and defeating the enemy. During typical training exercises, large units aligned to one another don’t often train together, but this cycle was different for the MPs. The 333rd Military Police Brigade came to McCoy and trained with two of its battalions: 400th MP Battalion and 310th MP Battalion.
“This has been a completely austere environment … I think it was pretty unique that the brigade was able to come to an exercise with organic units. Doing this allowed both battalions to be able to validate and be ready, but were able to conduct mission command with its organic headquarters,” said Capt. Deveney Wall, the executive officer to the 400th MP Battalion.
MPs had to operate their missions on a 24-hour cycle while responding to attacks on their bases that came in various forms: chemical, complex attacks and indirect fire. They did this while processing thousands of prisoners through using biometrics systems, running convoy operations for missions outside the wire and responding to civil disturbances.
Additionally, one of the battalions had to relocate their tactical operations center by packing up their equipment into a convoy of vehicles, and re-assembling their operations tents at a new location. This process, known as a “Jump TOC,” is becoming more common among Army Reserve units as they train to respond quickly to mission changes or potential enemy threats. In this case, the MP battalion had to change mission from change mission from securing enemy prisoners of wars to taking care of displaced civilians. Once they set up the new camp, MPs worked to provide, food, shelter, water, medical care to civilians on the battlefield.
“Fort McCoy and its ranges provided a realistic theater environment that greatly enhances training. The various cell structures, sally ports and towers give Soldiers a true feel for their mission tasks. Also, this year’s emphasis on survivability brought to light the need for more basic infantry-like training in order to survive and win the next conflict,” said Diamontis.