CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- The change from an artillery battalion to a military police battery took two years of training, but the Marines and sailors of Hotel Battery, 3rd battalion, 14th Marine Regiment say it was no problem.
“I like these duties, especially when the boys get out there and are thinking on their feet,” said Staff Sgt. Montsho Sanders, 3rd platoon commander for Hotel Battery 3rd Bn., 14th Marines.
The other Marines in the battery enjoy their new duties as well, though they are doing much more than just standing guard or waving past vehicles at checkpoints.
“We do convoy security, we transfer Iraqi army detachments for leave rotations, we do (third country national) convoys, and escort detainees and dignitaries,” said Cpl. Jeremy K. Hamilton, a Humvee driver for the battery.
The battery’s convoys and other operations are not simple, and they usually start preparations and briefings up to three days in advance, including medical evacuation training and convoy security exercises.
“We train because we are our biggest threats,” Sanders said. “If we allow ourselves to lose focus, we could get hit with something obvious.”
But the training and briefings the battery has received while deployed are not the first they’ve received since the change from an artillery battalion to an MP task force.
“We put away our Howitzer two years ago and began training on infantry tactics, and last year we began getting on convoy ops, to include the virtual combat convoy trainer,” said Sgt. Kenneth W. Hudgins, a vehicle commander for the battery.
A major change that the Marines of the battery like is that they have traveled all over Iraq, as opposed to staying in one spot shooting artillery rounds.
“In arty you’re in one spot for a whole mission. Here you’re all over,” Hudgins said. “I’ve never been in a truck before this.”
And the battery does travel. They have traveled over 250,000 miles to cities throughout the Al Anbar province, as far west as the Syrian border.
“We go all over the place. We travel a whole lot,” Hamilton said.
Whenever the battery goes anywhere on a convoy, they research where they’re going to ensure the roads are safe.
“The S-2 tells us what happens on the roads we’ll be traveling, and we have a convoy brief to show the Marines all the routes we’re going to take,” Sanders said.
“Making mission is what it is for us,” Sanders said. “It’s not getting from point A to point B – it’s getting from point A to point B flawlessly.”