MP competition promotes readiness, multi-component collaboration

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Story by CPT Aaron Thacker on 09/22/2017
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - Two Arizona National Guard Military Police Soldiers participated in the 2017 MP Competitive Challenge event held here Sept. 16-19.

Forty five of the best MPs from across the nation and Army components converged for the U.S. Army Military Policy School-sponsored event designed to challenge their wits and endurance.

"This contest was more physically demanding than I thought it would be," said Spc. Justin Martinez, a team leader in the 860th MP Company in Tucson. "My feet are sore after the first day, and the lack of sleep makes the mental tests that much more challenging."

Each day started with an early rise and an unknown-distance road march to a training area where individual points started accumulating from a series of physical and written exams.

Sgt. Nicholas Jacobs, team leader with the 855 MP Company in Phoenix, explained how the competition was not as simple as running, jumping, rucking and lifting.

"They beat you down, then throw in the mental stuff to see if you can push through and maintain," Jacobs said. "Answers that normally come easily are suddenly hard."

The physical exercises were dovetailed with written tasks. For example, one event started with the day's second four-mile road march which followed several sand bag carries, rope climbs and shooting events that ended at a chemical substance chamber. Competitors then donned their protective masks and entered the building. At that point, they began a timed written exam and, upon completion or time expiration, they removed their masks and took a deep breath before exiting the chamber.

Another obstacle stemmed from the diversity of knowledge Soldiers were tested on. In addition to standard military police knowledge, there were questions and tasks related to internment and resettlement, criminal investigations and working dog handler military occupational specialties.

"This competition opens my eyes to the knowledge I don't have," Martinez said. "It points out our soft points and gives me something to think about when I go back to my unit."

Although this event was designed to build esprit de corps and pride in service amongst the various components, there is a practical side, one that demonstrates readiness.

"Competition brings out our individual best," said Lt. Col. William Karlage, Commander of the 850th Military Police Battalion in Phoenix. "It hones our individual skills, and therefore, our ability to fight and win our nation's wars."

Karlage explained how important it is for our Guard Soldiers to collaborate and train with members from the other components. "That's what makes us one Army," Karlage said. "We integrate in training as we would on the battlefield where you can't tell one component from another, all Soldiers working together to accomplish the mission."

"Working with the other components is just like working with any other Soldier," said Martinez of the seamless integration of the multi-component representatives at the competition.

The next United States Army Military Police School-sponsored MPCC is scheduled for Sept. 16-18, 2018, at Fort Leonard Wood.

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