CAMP SINJAR, Iraq --
“We can bring a whole lot of fight. Military police are trained to do a whole span of things. Our vehicle and weapons configurations are really like (an infantry) weapons platoon,” said 1st Lt. Jared B. Justice, officer in charge, area guard, MP Detachment, Combat Logistics Company 19, 1st Marine Logistics Group.
Base security here includes Military Police posted in armored vehicles with mounted machineguns. Justice, 24, Topsham, Maine, positioned the vehicles at strategic locations around the perimeter, based on fields of fire and weapons’ capabilities.
The MP’s behind those weapons keep vigilant eyes on the horizon in constant search of any insurgent threat.
“Security is our bread and butter basically,” said Sgt. Travis L. Sheldon, platoon sergeant, MP Det. “Because field (MPs are) all security oriented. Our training from day one is about providing security and protection.”
These MPs do not spend their time in the states writing tickets and checking identification at garrison gates. Provost Marshal Officers, the ones who cite traffic violations, and field MPs are two completely different animals, said Sheldon, 29, Lancaster, Calif.
“We’re not like the (base) PMO,” said Sheldon. “We find out what we’re going to do (on deployment) and we tailor our training goals to fit that mission.”
Whereas PMO patrols the base in police cars, stateside field MPs train to provide convoy or base security in forward deployed environments. They also maintain presence in the towns located near the forward operating base, through mounted and dismounted security patrols.
“Presence and security patrols in outlying areas keeps us vigilant and keeps the enemies on their toes,” said Sheldon. Reconnaissance also plays a key role in the MPs mission.
“Since it’s a little more hostile up here, mainly with the population, the biggest concern is going to be (indirect fire) coming in from towns within range,” Sheldon said. “Patrols allow us to see if they’ve been out setting up emplacements to hit us with, it keeps them guessing, and creates an aggressive security posture.”
Just sitting on base in armored vehicles and waiting for something to happen is not enough. Patrols provide another, more proactive dimension to maintaining security.
“Aggressive patrolling, if you show you’re in the area, (insurgents) are less likely to try and disrupt your operations,” Justice said.
If the machineguns and the occasional patrols don’t dissuade insurgents from causing problems, then the MP Quick Reaction Force provides another tool for thwarting enemy goals.
A small, platoon-sized QRF element can react to anything from rapidly approaching vehicles to squad sized attacks and base infiltrations, said Justice. The QRF can also call upon close-air support and the sizable ground combat element to help shore up any larger-scale problems.
The MPs are prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure the security of this base and its operations, said Justice.
“If we didn’t have security to secure assets, with how far up (north) we are, there’s no way (outside units) could get the resupplies they need to carry out an operation. If you slack on your security, let it slide, you’re setting yourself up for major problems in the future,” Justice said.
Justice said that ensuring security is not simply left up to aggressive action. Just as security came about in Anbar, engaging with locals will improve security in Nineweh.
“We’re responsible for doing a couple dismounted patrols through the small villages here, more humanitarian operations as well; CLC 19 has been great in supporting (civil affairs missions) in the past,” said Justice.
Justice and his Marines are operating in support of Operation Defeat Al Qaeda in the North II, an operation designed to help Coalition forces restore stability to western Nineveh province and support Multi-National Division – North as they work to secure the restive city of Mosul.