VILSECK, BY, GERMANY –
Two teams of Military Police gathered at the objective rally point next to the testing area. Air insertion placed them approximately 250 meters from the exploitation site.
While junior Soldiers maintained security, noncommissioned officers from both teams looked over a map, formulating a plan to safely infiltrate the test area. The objective, two buildings containing role players, weapons, sensitive information and a buried cache, was hidden in the forest.
Eleven Soldiers from the 615th Military Police Company gathered to perform the Combined Arms Training Course’s site exploitation culmination test, while maintaining COVID-19 health protocols, May 14. The 5-day site exploitation course developed knowledge and skills to conduct material and personnel exploitation to feed future operations and targeting.
Prior to the second team’s arrival, three Soldiers established a safe route using a metal detector. Throughout the test area, smoke canisters were hidden to simulate improvised explosive devices.
“They have approximately two hours to collect as much evidence as possible,” said Kenneth Comeaux, an instructor with CATC. “At the same time, they have booby-traps…they have to avoid. They have a vehicle search, personnel search, building search, and a…cache search.”
The 11 MPs split back into two teams. The head of both formations used metal detectors to avoid IEDs as they navigated their way to the role players’ location. Maintaining surveillance for the leading team was Cpl. Israel Hernandez, an MP assigned to the 615th MP Co.
“I’ve never been through a situation where I’d encounter an IED,” said Hernandez, “but this is one of those training scenarios, where you would want to take it as serious as possible because you never know you would encounter something like that.
"I firmly believe this training helps us during a deployment and on the law enforcement side, when we work the roads on bases. You don’t know what you’ll find in anybody’s house, [on an installation or a combat environment]."
Eventually, the MPs spotted the exploitation site and made a formation to flank the role players securing the buildings. Moving through brush and trees, the MPs repeated orders for the role players to “Put [their] hands up,” and to “Drop [their] weapons.” Within a couple of minutes, the role players were detained, restrained with cable-tie handcuffs, searched and separated for questioning.
The two teams separated for evidence collection and detainee operations.
Criteria for evidence collection were biometrics search, proper handling, labeling and packaging of evidence, said Comeaux.
Around the exploitation site, Soldiers found a map, documents, three handheld radios, two laptops, a cell phone and a recreational drone. Prior to collection, Soldiers photographed the evidence and ensured fingerprints were not disturbed.
“We had a little introduction to biometrics in [Advanced Individual Training],” said Spc. Daniel Chavez, an MP, who has been with the 615th MP Co. for five months. “[This] was new [, more tactical,] information -- stuff that we normally wouldn’t look at as Military Police.”
The intelligence collected led to the discovery of the cache hidden in the forest, 30 meters from the main exploitation. The metal detector alerted the MPs of the buried cache. It contained more communications equipment and weapons.
With evidence packed and “injured” personnel treated and evacuated by air, the instructors announced the index of the exercise.
This unique training adds to the Soldier’s experience, especially for those coming out of AIT, said Hernandez. They learned how to handle IEDs, question individuals, search buildings for information and exploit an area. This is training the entire company can use to impact our readiness and MP operations.
Throughout the training, Soldiers and instructors adhered to the health protocols established to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the classroom, Soldiers and instructors maintained social distancing and wore face masks during practical exercises and the culminating event, where close interactions were unavoidable.
“It’s important to protect soldiers because they’re protecting us,” said Comeaux. “Even with [COVID-19] going on, we still have training to do. You still have threats out there, so training cannot stop.”