FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. –
More than 700 Soldiers from the 11th Military Police Brigade spent two weeks on the roads of Camp Pendleton and Fort Hunter Liggett, California participating in their annual exercise: Pacific Warrior.
This was the first time all battalions from Washington, Arizona, Texas, and California assembled during the brigade exercise. Units were able to train on detainee operations, combat support, and law and order. Units were also able to provide logistical and signal support along with training on Army Warrior Tasks and firing various weapons during gunnery.
“The brigade and battalion staffs trained to improve the ability to conduct the command and control process in support of all MP missions,” said Col. David Heflin, commander of the 11th. “The companies attending performed detention operations, provided support to mobility and area security and practiced host nation police training under the austere and rigorous conditions of Fort Hunter Liggett.”
Working together as a team helped different battalions achieve their mission essential tasks. Units were able to understand each other during multiple situational training exercises involving two or more units.
“Working with other units has worked well with us,” said Sgt. Zachary Galley, an internment/resettlement specialist with the 357th Military Police Company.
Soldiers from the 366th Military Police Company had a scenario where a team had to apprehend an enemy prisoner of war and escort them to a detainee holding area monitored by the 357th. “Usually we don’t have enough manpower to operate a facility and have opposing forces just within our unit, so being able to outsource to other units has been beneficial to us,” added Galley.
As a combat support unit, the 366th drove on the dusty roads, reacting to scenarios handed down by the 607th Military Police Battalion. The commander of the 607th, Lt. Col. Marshall Hogue, enjoyed communicating with other battalions while responding to orders from the 11th.
“They are out here training like they are fighting,” said Hogue. “We are passing good information to each other and challenging each other.”
“If we did not have another battalion to support a mission, we would have to end the exercise sooner. Pacific Warrior will allow us to complete the mission,” added Hogue.
Monitoring the paved roads were the Soldiers from the 438th Military Police Company. The 438th partnered with the Fort Hunter Liggett Police Department in providing traffic stops and enforcing military law.
Spc. Ethan Phillips, a military policeman with the 438th Military Police Company learned something new every single day. “We like to pride ourselves on productivity. During our traffic stops we are learning how to talk to people,” said Phillips. “Verbal communication is a big deal, and we like to emphasize that. Make sure everyone is taken care of, and make sure we are talking to people the right way.”
Phillips is also a Utah state trooper and finds that his civilian experience has helped train soldiers.
“I take everyone out with me, because not everyone is a police officer on the civilian side. I will try to train and teach as much as I can,” added Phillips.
Outside of military police training, soldiers of the 11th were able to provide logistical and communication support for the operation. Food service specialists from all the battalions worked as one team and fed the 700-plus soldiers every day.
“MPs enjoyed excellent hot meals prepared in the field, in Mobile Kitchen Trailers, as they honed their fieldcraft skills,” said Heflin.
On the ranges, MP teams were able to qualify as teams on the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, and the MK19 grenade launcher. The brigade performed live fire crew-served weapons training and completed everything from ground qualification through Table VI Gunnery.
Moving pieces for a major operation does not come easy.
“I was most impressed with the brigade's ability to perform Expeditionary Operations and move soldiers, equipment and rolling stock to Fort Hunter Liggett safely, efficiently, and economically from all over the country by tactical convoys, commercial air and bus, and by contracted carriers,” said Heflin.
This will be Heflin’s last Pacific Warrior as the brigade also included a change-of-command ceremony during the exercise. Heflin was satisfied with the operation and sees great things for the future of the brigade.
“I am happy to turn over what is a motivated, individually-trained brigade that is ready to take the next step in improving collective training readiness,” added Heflin.