Letters


Military Police

Kudos to Col. David L. Patton, U.S. Army retired, on his article "Put the 'Police' Back in Military Police" in the September issue ("Front & Center"). It says what we in the Military Police (MP) Corps have been saying for years and then provides some extraordinary recommendations.

When he was commander of Training and Doctrine Command, Gen. Donn Starry tasked Maj. Gen. Joseph Kingston, and then Maj. Gen. Elmer (Ray) Ochs, commandants of the MP School, to establish the Rear Area Combat Operations Task Force, the study group that Col. Patton cites in his article.

After much research, those of us on the task force subsequently briefed Gen. Starry and Lt. Gen. John (Roy) Thurman at the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., during the summer of 1978. At that time, we described the "MP threat spectrum" (mission profile) from the squad car in the garrison environment to the high mobility weapons carrier (HMWC) we were developing, along with the Mark-19 that we "borrowed" from the U.S. Naval Ordnance Station in Louisville, Ky, and their use in a rear area combat scenario. I recall one of Lt. Gen. Thurman's staff saying: "No soldier can be trained to do all of that."

I had to explain to this officer that this was precisely what the Army's MPs have done in every war in which we have fought.

I further stated that the MP combat support missions and functions in Vietnam clearly illustrated and validated the MP's role in combat.

As we now know, the HMWC eventually became the Humvee only because we couldn't get the Army to understand that we needed a bona fide armored vehicle on the order of the Cadillac Gage V-100 or V-150, which we included in our 1978 developmental work back at Fort McClellan, Ala. (We have learned this lesson again in Iraq-as usual, too late.)

In any case, Col. Patton deserves much credit for taking the time to reenergize in such an eloquent manner a case that we in the MP Corps have been making for so many years. Patton has gone a step or two further in his article. Everyone should read this thoughtful, utilitarian and important article.

COL. JOEL L. LESON, USA RET.

Fairfax Station, Va.

"Old Dogs and New Tricks"

I read the August "Front & Center" article "Old Dogs and New Tricks: Setting the Tone for Adaptability" by Maj. Donald E. Vandergriff, U.S. Army retired, and Col. George Reed, U.S. Army retired, with great interest, and several of the vignettes made memories from the National Training Center (NTC), past professional development episodes and items of preparation for staff positions come to mind.

The article's note on the restriction placed on the opposing forces during the Prairie Warrior exercise reminded me of a similar event at the NTC in 1993. I was an intelligence electronic warfare liaison officer to 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, and the attached military intelligence company/team had successfully decrypted the code used by the opposing force's engineers. My observer/controller came forward with several other NTC personnel and pulled all notes, decryptions and related material from the traffic analysis team, noting they were defeating the "training objectives" of why we were at the NTC. Citing lack of realism, they said the analysis team was no longer allowed to attempt decrypting opposing force transmissions. Somehow, "training as you fight" fell by the wayside for "training to the syllabus."

The authors question how the lack of adaptability affects the mission, which is an important question. While the authors are looking at the mission set focused on decentralized, platoon/ company-sized operations, there is another side of adaptability-the Army's continued "up and out" promotion system, which focuses on leadership experience in command positions but does not prepare soldiers for staff positions. Staff preparation relies primarily on "discovery learning" on the job rather than dedicated schooling. …

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