Guardians of the road

10 Feb 2003 | Sgt. L.A. Salinas

Military police guard bases and Marines throughout the Corps.

The Marines of 2nd Military Police Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group, have another mission as they defend the massive amounts of military gear rolling down the Kuwaiti freeways as the military buildup in support of the war on terror continues.

"We're protecting military personal and equipment who are coming in theater to their respective area of operational responsibility," said Sgt. Jeremiah A. Conn, squad leader, 2nd MP Bn.

Conn, a 25-year-old Doniphan, Mo., native, said he's seen the same problems develop time and time again in his six years of convoy security experience.

"Communication between drivers and language differences between local civilians are some of the reoccurring issues we seen," said Conn.

MPs in Kuwait have adapted to their surroundings and established their own way to communicate with the civilian drivers.

"I give basic hand and arm signals to local nationals [in our convoy] to keep the convoy better organized and running smoothly," said Lance Cpl. Ryan G. Wilhite, a machine-gunner with 2nd MP Bn.

The machine-gunners give the signals from the gun turret in the humvee. The machine-gunner is also responsible for providing the convoy with some firepower.

"We are always on the alert," said Wilhite, a 21-year old from Richmond, Va., "watching out for danger zones and watching the convoy."

From the squad leader to the machine gunner, each Marine plays a pivotal role in the safety of the convoy.

Although these battlefield cops are prepared to handle any hostile situation, they have their edgy moments on the road.

"Just knowing the possibility that anything could happen is my most tense moment," said Sgt. Glenn M. Cannon, assistant squad leader, 2nd MP Bn.

"We don't want any casualties in a peacetime environment," added the 25-year-old Greenville, N.C., native.

The responsibility of the convoy's security ultimately falls on the shoulder of the squad leader, who has the task of bringing the convoy through safely and his men back home alive.

"There is actually a threat level," said Conn. "There is a risk of being shot at. It is no longer an exercise."

Military policemen receive extensive training in many different environments across the world. They deploy small teams of Marines, often led by a non-commissioned officer, which allows them to maintain an enhanced sense of unit cohesion.

"We definitely received enough training," said Conn. "It's tougher for the newer guys, but they catch up quick. In an atmosphere like this, they have to."

"You have to think about what you do when different situations arrive, and do it quickly in a conventional matter," added  Wilhite.

"Doing convoy security is like the what military police do on base," he said.  "They keep the bad people away from base and we keep them away from our gear and equipment."