Military Police


Military Police contains information about military police functions in maneuver and mobility support, area security, law and order, internment/resettlement, and police intelligence operations.

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43 Spring 2016 By Captain Andrew B. Ginther W hich year was it? After more than a decade of war, the Army had transitioned back to its peacetime mission while still maintaining its presence in the Middle East. Operation Bright Star had kicked off in Egypt, so U.S. forces could assist the Egyptian military with training exercises. Military police units continued serving as professional police forces, providing support to their re- spective installation commanders. And due to wartime stan- dards and force generation, leaders at all echelons were be- ing challenged by readiness; the Uniform Code of Military Justice; compliance with Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and ; and general discipline issues. So again—which year was it? It was 1980. That year also marked the beginning of Lieutenant Colonel Bill Blissett's (Retired) tenure as commander of the 591st Military Police Company, Fort Bliss, Texas. After the end of the Vietnam War and the decade of the 1970s, recreational drug use was common among Soldiers—and the Soldiers of Fort Bliss were no exception. Blissett (who was then a captain) was hand-selected to reestablish unit discipline and standards to better support the installation. At the time, the 591st Military Police Company consisted of 335 Soldiers—almost twice the size of a current combat support military police company. Fort Bliss wasn't always the state-of-the-art force projec- tion platform that it is today. During the 1980s, it was the home of the Air Defense Artillery Branch. It was host to the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and to the thousands of air defenders who arrived to attend basic, advanced, and individual training; and it was home to 10,000 Soldiers. To- day, it is home to the 1st Armored Division and to more than 35,000 Soldiers. The Soldiers in Captain Blissett's formation held the ranks of private through colonel. The company served as the sole law enforcement entity for the installation. In ad- dition, it had an absent without offcial leave apprehension team stationed in Tucson, Arizona; it manned the installa- tion detention facility located at Biggs Army Airfeld; and it operated the provost marshal's offce with a nine-dog (all narcotics dogs) kennel facility. Fast-forward 30 years: A retired Lieutenant Colonel Blissett began reminiscing about the 591st Military Police Company—which was, admittedly, his favorite unit. While conducting an Internet query in 2011, he learned that the unit had been reactivated on Fort Bliss in 2008 to train and deploy Soldiers to support Operation Iraqi Freedom 09-10. In an attempt to reconnect with his former unit, Blissett contacted the current commander. They corresponded via e- mail and made plans to exchange some historical documents that Lieutenant Colonel Blissett had stored for years. Unfortunately, due in part to the unit's heavy involve- ment in chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and ex- plosives consequence management reaction force support and its subsequent deployment to Cuba, communication be- tween the two individuals eventually ceased. On 16 June 2014, shortly after the unit's redeployment from Cuba (which had taken place under the leadership of Captain Osvaldo Santiago), I assumed command of the 591st Military Police Company. As usual, there was a mas- sive turnover in leadership at all echelons immediately fol- lowing the redeployment. With the help of First Sergeant Keith Walker, the unit regained its focus and training ini- tiative to provide a professional police force for Fort Bliss. After delving into the unit's storied past, I contacted Lieu- tenant Colonel Blissett. He was instrumental in providing the unit with historical information. He supplied documents describing the unit's support to a very unique and signif- cant mission, Operation Orbit Stars (the funeral of General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley), during which the unit provided traffc control and honor guard personnel. In addi- tion, he contributed information to the unit fle in the U.S. Army Center of Military History, eventually leading to the distinctive designation of the 591st Military Police Company as the Iron Spartans. Much like Lieutenant Colonel Blissett during his tenure as commander of the 591st Military Police Company, I faced the many challenges of discipline, standards, and demand- ing and diverse mission sets. The unit, which currently consists of less than 200 Soldiers with a full complement of equipment, is the primary law enforcement provider for Fort Bliss, working law enforcement/security augmentation 14 of 18 months to date. The unit provides most of the special re- action team positions, supports the drug suppression team, and mans the only trained company operational intelligence support team, providing criminal intelligence support to Fort Bliss. Furthermore, like Lieutenant Colonel Blissett, I look toward the past to solidify and strengthen my unit's fu- ture. In an effort to motivate and inspire Soldiers and lead- ers to continue the legacy, I—with assistance from previous commanders of the 591st—took the opportunity during the Military Police Regimental Week celebrations to highlight many of the incredible feats that had been accomplished by the unit.

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