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Friday, March 24, 2006


Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:

In response to an inquiry about my experience with the 142d Military Police Company in the Republic of Korea, I submitted the following information, which may be of general interest, hence the reason for posting it in my blog. 

Jean wrote: 

Could you tell me a little about your duties? 

I was never a regularly trained military police patrolman.

My military training, at that time, was as a Radio Relay and Carrier Equipment Repair Specialist, and I was assigned to the 307th Signal Battalion at Weon Ju.

Because I was due to soon be discharged from the United States Army, I requested training under the "PROJECT TRANSISTION" program, indicating my desire for a civilian career in law enforcement.

Thus, I was temporarily assigned to the 142d Military Police Company at Yong San Army Garrison, which is in Seoul, the capital city of the Republic of Korea.

My training was on-the-job police patrols, plus a night course from Los Angeles City College in "Justice Administration", where our text was the California Penal Code.

My actual orders were to "get in the car and do what he does."

I was further counselled that because I lacked experience and training, that I was to forget about rank and always obey the instructions and orders of the patrolman, even if he was only a private, since he knew the job and I was only learning.

That made perfect sense to me, and I was willing to work under those conditions. 

What does being an Army MP in Korea mean? 

It's just being a soldier, obeying orders, and doing your job.

Military police patrol Army posts and adjacent communities, doing basic police duties, the same as regular police officers do in civilian life.

In Korea, they even had a highway patrol, and a full time vehicle accident investigation team.

They also guard prisoners, supervise stores and supplies, and provide special protection when necessary for equipment or personnel.

Detectives, wearing civilian clothes, investigate misdemeanors and felonies.

Military police must frequently respond to brawls in bars and barracks, which sometimes might mean full scale rioting.

After all, this is the United States Army, where everybody is male, young, trained to fight, and hyped up ready to go, for whatever reason, real or imagined.

In Korea, we had rampant racial hostility between black and white, plus we had a massive drug addiction problem.

So, there's plenty of reasons for troops to want to fight each other, and thus, plenty of action for military police. 

Do all bases have MPs? 

So far as I know, all regular United States Army posts have military police units assigned to them.

By the way, the United States Army has "posts"; it's the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force that have "bases".

For military compounds that are too small to have a regular military police unit stationed there, they generally appoint a "Security Patrol" from among the ranks of whichever unit is there.

It's sort of like guard duty, with the duty being rotated among personnel, so that sooner or later, everyone there will have a chance to do that job. 

What kind of training did you have to have?

 And how did someone qualify? 

Since I didn't attend the regular Military Police school, I really can't answer that question.

But, there is a school they have to go to.

When I was attending Signal School at Fort Gordon, Georgia in 1968, there was a Military Police school on the same post.

They even had a mock town set up, just like a Hollywood movie set, for riot control training.

I do know that prospective trainees are screened with psychological aptitude testing, and of course, must be physically fit. 

Is an MP considered an officer or enlisted? 

Military Police are organized the same as all other regular Army units, with commissioned officers, noncommissioned officers, and enlisted personnel.

Did you patrol and police just Army personnel, or elsewhere? 

Army military police enforce Army regulations on Army posts and in adjacent areas, with the agreement and cooperation of those adjacent community officials.

In Korea, we patrolled in civilian areas, but with full knowledge and approval from the Republic of Korea.

In places like Korea, we have what is known as a "STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENT", which protects American personnel, for when they are arrested by Korean police, American detainees are turned over to the United States Army for judicial process.

Likewise, Korean citizens arrested by United States military police are referred to local government agencies. 

Is an Army MP a respected/feared position?

What kind of authority did you have? 

Army military police have the same training and authority as civilian police agencies, but with more emphasis on war and combat.

Army military police are trained as infantry soldiers, and often function in that capacity, especially when I was in Viet Nam.

In my unit in Korea, some of the patrolmen had been trained as cavalry scouts, not as military police, but they were still deemed fit to do the job.

In war, such as Iraq and Afghanistan today, the military police provide escorts for military truck convoys, and they man roadblocks and inspection stations.

A friend of mine has a son now in Iraq, recently wounded and currently recovering, who is a military police sniper in the United States Marine Corps.

His job was providing security for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (i.e., "E.O.D.") teams as they defused roadside bombs, and he also provided personal security for visiting V.I.P.s, such as generals and politicians.

While on his third tour in Iraq, he was wounded by a roadside bomb while travelling in a Humvee with other Marines.

Fortunately, their armor protected them, and he will soon recover from his wounds and return to his duties.

In Korea, one of the MPs got into a shootout with some other soldiers, and he single-handedly killed all five of them.

At Fort Hood, Texas, a couple of soldiers robbed the main PX (i.e., the store) and shot the MP who responded.

Although badly wounded, he returned fire, killing both of them.

In Korea, as military police, we could travel all over Seoul all night long, without regard for curfew, by merely turning on the flashing blue lights and continuing to drive straight through Republic of Korean Army road blocks.

Anyone else would have been shot.

But, we just had fun!

It's great being an American soldier in the wee hours in a city like Seoul, wearing a loaded Colt .45, and driving a full-sized American sedan, with no restrictions at all.

Military Police are respected, feared, hated, loathed, and despised, depending on who you talk to, and which side of the law they are on.

The motto of the Military Police is, "Of the troops and for the troops".

They are soldiers whose job is to make sure other soldiers don't disgrace their uniform with bad conduct or dishonorable actions.

Of course, that cuts both ways, as military police are also soldiers and human beings.

When I was in Korea, several military police were arrested for using marijuana.

Some military police at Fort Bragg, North Carolina were arrested for dealing illegal drugs.

I have seen military police abuse prisoners and laugh about it.

That's life.

Good boys are trained to do bad things, and sometimes, things go too far.

That even happens with civilian police.

But, generally speaking, the system works the way it's supposed to, and most military police personnel turn out okay.

Here's yet another aspect you may not be familiar with:

Today, here in the United States of America, many military installations are guarded and patrolled by CIVILIAN uniformed patrol officers, who are employed by the Department of Defense Police.

They make it possible for regular military personnel to be available for service elsewhere, such as Iraq or Afghanistan.

These Department of Defense Police officers are armed and almost all are military veterans, with prior experience and training.

Depending on their duties, they may be required to obtain "SECRET" or "TOP SECRET" security clearances, since they have access to ALL areas of a military installation.

I hope I've answered some of your questions.

Thank you.

John Robert Mallernee, KB3KWS
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

NOTE: "My controversial and unpopular personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan."


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