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What's it Like to be an Army MP?
Contributed by Pain99, a member of our message forum
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Life as an Army MP 
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What’s it like to be an MP? I think I have been asked that question about 15 times via e-mail to date. Since all those requests are coming from this forum… I respectfully submit my version of this life for your review.

“Military Police”, OK… what are you thinking now? Flashing red and blue lights on the road? Tickets and jerks with power trips? “Hill Street Blues”? Pig, Mud Puppy, “Can’t Spell WHIMP without MP”? Maybe you are picturing guns drawn and villains on the ground. Possible “Cops” comes to mind and the theme music rolls in your subconscious.

Maybe when I say “Military Police” you think of savors. Maybe you start remembering a time when the cops busted a party up. Or it’s even possible that a few of you think of some of the field missions we handle.

What ever you may think when the words “Military” and “Police” are said… I am going to try to build on that. Maybe I will even erase that view of the MP Corps from your mind. Either way…. When this is over I hope that you will at least be able say that we are more than you thought.

I wanted to do an “A day in the life of” type story… but to be honest I couldn't really give you a solid picture of what we are all about if I only wrote about one day. Instead I will try to hit on the basics.

First of all you need to get a good idea what you are working with. The newest MP entering into his first Permanent Party unit will have just graduated from OSUT. OSUT is basic training and AIT all slapped into one 16-17 week cycle. Day one… meet Drill SGT. Meanbody. When basic ends Drill Meanbody lines everyone up and says “You are now soldiers… get ready for chow. Welcome to AIT and a brand new day.” No parades or graduation with the family. To the MP Corps you are not really worth anything yet because you are just a basic soldier. No wearing of your Class A’s. No going home for a week or so. No new rooms or Drill SGT’s. Just go wash you hands and then get in formation for chow. MP’s are not given “freedom” when they get to AIT. Oh you get more time after the training day. But you are now expected to spit shine (I mean really spit shine) your boots and press (I mean really press) your uniforms everyday. Inspections are held at random and a bad uniform day can mean the loss of one of your few passes. Welcome to Military Police School.

MP schooling is about 10 weeks if I remember correctly. It seems to change a lot so I may be off there by a week. While in training a recruit will learn law, UCMJ, hand to hand (MP style) fighting, weapons and all sorts of fun stuff. MP’s are taught that they are alone in the Army and that they must be the most professional soldiers at all times. They are taught to “Set the standards”. After graduation the new MP heads off to a unit.

MP units are multipurpose tools used daily all over the world. MP’s are expected to be able to do just about anything a commander needs at a moments notice. I could list a 1000 different units… but I will just stick to the more average types of unit.

Most units rotate trough a cycle on a base. Here at Ft. Leonard Wood we have a pretty average cycle. One month Law Enforcement, one month Access Control, One month training. During the “Access control” month we work the gates checking ID’s. We issue passes and ensure that only authorized personnel and their vehicles enter the post. During the Law Enforcement month we patrol the base in vehicles and on foot. We respond to 911 calls and general complaints. We use RADAR to enforce speed laws and of course watch stop signs for violations. The training month is used to prepare for field missions. These can consist of basic soldier skills or advanced unit specific missions. Some units train to escort POW’s during war, others train to support forward units in finding their way. A unit may be tasked with setting up a holding compound (think Camp X-Ray) for prisoners or detainees.

A big question I get asked is, “Are you treated differently as an MP”. The answer is yes and no. Some people are afraid to approach police officers. They picture us all a mean, power hungry people. Others love to taunt cops. Most people are indifferent to us though. They know we are around… they just don’t think about us much. We are by the nature of our duties different though. While many people sleep or take holidays, we work the roads and gates. 24 hours a day you can find a crew of MP’s standing guard or working a beat. 365 days a year you can call the MP station and get a dispatcher on the phone. That’s the nature of MP work.

Military Police are just soldiers doing a different job. We carry weapons with live ammo everyday. We write tickets for people well above our own pay grades. We face “combat situations” in the front lawns of soldiers’ homes weekly. And when we see a cop behind us we think, “What does this jerk want”.

 

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