Photo Information

Robert Schaeffer, a dog handler with American K-9 Detection Services, searches vehicles for drugs and bombs during a command authorized vehicle search conducted May 12 at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.

Photo by Spc. Chelsea Russell

Camp Leatherneck PMO encourages morale, welfare, discipline on base

5 May 2012 | Spc. Chelsea Russell

The drawing on the whiteboard clearly illustrates the key points of a vehicle inspection May 12. Sgt. Irma Rosales, watch commander for I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (Forward) Provost Marshal’s Office, outlines the different aspects of the search, calmly warning her fellow Military Policemen to be on the lookout for anything suspicious. As she finishes her brief, Rosales smiles brightly and tells the mix of coalition MPs to be ready to roll out in 15 minutes.

There’s no telling what the MPs may find during their search. One thing is for sure though; being an MP could never be termed dull. Each day holds something different.

“It’s not monotonous,” said Staff Sgt. Roy Calica, Staff Noncommissioned Officer in Charge for I MHG (Fwd) PMO. “You get to do different things. Every call you go to has a different set of circumstances that dictate how you handle the particulars of that case.”

Although the job of the MP varies depending upon their location, their main task at Camp Leatherneck is to encourage the discipline of everyone on the base. 

A deployed environment comes with different concerns and situations, but MPs try to run their organization similar to military law enforcement stations back in the states.

“Our basic mission here, as MPs, is law enforcement,” said Calica. “We’re trying to run the Provost Marshal’s Office exactly like we would if we were at Camp Pendleton or Fort Leonard Wood. Obviously, being out here, with different access to equipment, personnel and other resources, we have to tailor it specifically to what we’ve got.”

One of the biggest distinctions between working in Afghanistan as an MP is the opportunity to work with MPs from different countries around the world. The Marines and soldiers working at Camp Leatherneck’s PMO know the meaning of cultural diversity. They work with Bahraini Special Security Forces, Royal Air Force Police members, as well as Danish and Tongan MPs. Despite differences in language, culture and technique, these MPs have a common goal: protecting the residents of Camp Leatherneck.

“We like to think the enemy stays outside of our home base and doesn’t bother us here,” said Calica. “However, from past experiences, and some of the other things recently here in Afghanistan, we know that’s not always the case.”

The purpose behind conducting command authorized vehicle searches is to keep the complacency down.

“If they see us out doing things like (searches), hopefully it’ll spark something in them to make them either be more vigilant about their surroundings and pay attention to what’s going on,” explained Calica. “As well as maybe if they were thinking about doing something with ill intentions toward the people on this base maybe they’ll think twice because we present that hard target.”

During the command authorized vehicle search conducted May 12, the MPs searched approximately 35 vehicles and 50 personnel searches. The searches are done randomly throughout each month and help prevent individuals from possessing prohibited items.

“It kind of keeps everyone on their toes and doesn’t let them get used to our routines,” said Rosales.

The items they typically find during these searches are electronics such as phones, hard drives, SIM cards, computers, and cameras. To have these items, non-military members such as contractors and government employees must have the proper documentation saying they are authorized to have them in their possession. If they aren’t able to produce the paperwork, then the items are confiscated by the MPs.

They didn’t find any kind of contraband on their most recent search, which was a good thing, said Rosales.

“We want to ensure people understand that just because they’re out here they still have to follow the rules,” said Calica. “A lot of people get out in this mindset where we’re in Afghanistan, but we’re on a base so it’s completely safe and we don’t have to worry about anything.”

This attitude gives people a false sense of security, which can all too often be deadly, said Calica.

“If we stop them and we check them, it keeps that mindset going for them that we are still a military organization that needs to ensure we adhere to rules and regulations across the board regardless of where we’re at to keep that discipline high,” explained Calica.

MPs are charged with some weighty responsibilities, but they aren’t afraid to tackle their problems head on, said Calica. The constant changes of their job keeps them on their toes and ready to handle any situation they may face. Residents of Camp Leatherneck can rest easy knowing their safety is in good hands.