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NEWS | Feb. 28, 2019

On guard against terrorism: Tenacious master sergeant leads MP command to Army-wide antiterrorism award

By Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Lazo

FORT MEADE, Md. – The Army’s greatest asset is its people, and one organization in particular just won the Army’s top award for keeping Soldiers ready against terrorism.

The 200th Military Police Command earned first place in the “Best Large Unit” category in the U.S. Army’s Antiterrorism program.

The award demands constant vigilance, allowing no room for complacency. The awards program recognizes Soldiers and organizations working day-in and day-out to achieve antiterrorism excellence by protecting people, information, property and facilities.

“The threat is dynamic and the solution has to be dynamic – it’s a constant risk mitigation dance,” said Master Sgt. Dennis Hatch.

Hatch, a 22-year veteran, serves as the operations noncommissioned officer for the 200th Military Police Command, and his responsibilities include protection and antiterrorism efforts.

Hatch’s efforts led to the 200th MP Command’s recognition by the Office of the Provost Marshal General (OPMG), Antiterrorism Division. That means that as a U.S. Army Reserve organization, it beat out all brigades, divisions and commands across the entire Army to win first place.

Receiving the award was no easy task.

“Other organizations have people that are strictly dedicated to risk assessment,” said Hatch.

Some of the Antiterrorism Officers Hatch oversees in the 200th are “Troop Program Unit” Soldiers, who conduct military training – known as battle assemblies (BA) – once a month with their units. The part-time or limited training does not mean the ATOs’ efforts are constrained to once a month. They have to stay watchful year-round.

“They may do a risk assessment on their battle assemblies,” said Hatch, “but if one of their companies does movement to another location, it requires an antiterrorism risk assessment.”

These assessments are in constant need, due to the ever-changing level of threat posed by terrorism.

“Any time the threat changes you have to reassess the risk, and then address it through mitigation measures,” Hatch added.

Getting a reserve force that’s not on the clock all the time to address risk all the time takes a lot of hard work. Senior leaders at the 200th MP Command recognize that determined mindset in Hatch.

“He’s tenacious,” said Sgt. Major Jeffrey Thomsen, the command’s operations sergeant major. “When he gets a hold of a unit, he doesn’t let go until they are in compliance.”

Antiterrorism requires constant effort for an Army entering its 19th year at war, meaning Soldiers can never rest against the threat.

“He, as an [Active Guard Reserve] Soldier, beat out other Soldiers throughout the whole United States, which is incredible,” said Command Sgt. Major Craig Owens, command sergeant major of the 200th MP Command. “It shows his hard work and dedication, and all the effort he put in, in winning this and making our command as good as it is.”

According to the OPMG, units deter terrorism by simultaneously promoting aggressive defensive measures and by embracing Army Antiterrorism strategic plans. Best laid plans are hard to keep for reserve units due to changing requirements and missions.

In its selection process for winners of the Antiterrorism awards program, OPMG reviews not only the plans prepared by units for antiterrorism efforts but the actual execution of those plans, and results from security assessments.

“They are seeing all the hard work, actual work that went into it,” said Hatch. “What we planned on doing, and what we actually executed.”

What the 200th MP Command executed was not only comparable to their active duty counterparts but went above and beyond.

“We projected the best full-time protection capability with a part-time force,” said Hatch. “That in itself is significant across not just the Army but the Department of Defense.”

Col. Warren Bacote, the command’s operations chief, received the award on behalf the command during a ceremony at the 2019 Army Antiterrorism Training Seminar in Orlando, Florida, held in February.