A Single Purpose: Combat Ready

By Sgt. Elizabeth Taylor | 200th Military Police Command | Dec. 17, 2018

ROUGEMONT, N.C. — Nearly 250 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from four different units traveled a combined distance of 360 miles on six buses and nearly 20 tactical vehicles to train on 22 different warrior tasks in two days, all for one purpose: Improve combat-readiness. 

Those units included the headquarters company of the 535th Military Police Battalion and its down-trace companies. Together, they trained on warrior tasks and battle drills during a two-day field training exercise Dec. 7-8, 2018.

“The goal is to get Soldiers better trained on Army Warrior Task and … basic Soldier skills,” said Maj. Margaret Petersen, executive officer of the 535th MP Battalion. 

The battalion divided over 20 basic Soldier tasks between four companies. Each company assigned a subject matter expert in their respective task and facilitated and trained troops as they rotated through the training stations. 

The Soldiers trained in shooting, maneuvering, communication and medical response to a casualty. Soldiers were tested on their individual, team and squad skills in events such as maintaining a .50-Cal M2 Machine Gun, reacting to indirect fire while dismounted, moving under direct fire, performing field maintenance, requesting medical evacuation, and reacting to a biological or chemical attack.

"The Soldiers have been willing to learn … When they run across the field they're … really getting into the activities, asking questions being open to constructive criticism," said Petersen.

The exercise involved extensive coordination in order to transport large pieces of equipment, move dozens of military vehicles and hundreds of personnel from their unit headquarters. 

“We are pretty far from home,” said 1st Sgt. Brian Heisman from the 88th MP Company, Fort Eustis, Virginia. “The further distance enhanced the training for us. That allowed us to develop our traveling procedures, like convoy operations and radio communications protocol.”

The training also allowed the companies to train alongside their sister units, which doesn’t happen often, said Heisman.

“It's good to get the whole battalion together and see Soldiers from other companies and interact with them,” he said.

Soldiers found this field training event more in-depth and useful than the typical battle assembly weekend spent at an Army Reserve center.

“It’s nice to get out in the field versus sitting in a classroom and learning from a book. The resources that we were able to use broadened our spectrum of learning and positively impacted our readiness,” said Spc. Hayden Homes, a military police Soldier from the 88th MP Company.