266th MP Company sharpen their skills, compete with each other during annual training

Soldiers of the 266th Military Police Company conduct a stress fire exercise conducted Soldiers July 18, 2013 during the unit’s annual training at Fort Pickett, Va. The exercise required Soldiers to engage targets from a variety of positions and distances ranging from five to 25 meters and aimed to teach the MPs how to shoot in awkward and uncomfortable positions. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers of the 266th Military Police Company conduct a stress fire exercise conducted July 18, 2013 during the unit’s annual training at Fort Pickett, Va. The exercise required Soldiers to engage targets from a variety of positions and distances ranging from five to 25 meters and aimed to teach the MPs how to shoot in awkward and uncomfortable positions. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Virginia Guard Soldiers from the Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group traveled to both Fort Pickett and Camp Pendleton for annual training July 13-27, 2013, in order to sharper their individual and collective MP skills.

The Soldiers qualified on weapons, completed drivers’ training, conducted Combat Lifesaver Courses and operated traffic control points, all while also competing in an MP squad competition.

“My end state was to conduct an annual training event that would challenge my leaders and my Soldiers, stress them both mentally and physically, and ultimately build confidence in the core element of my unit, which are squad-level operations,” said Capt. Michael Duggan, commander of the 266th MP Company. “I feel that we met our goals as a unit and I am pleased what we accomplished while at annual training.”

Duggan had two goals for his unit’s AT. The first was to complete several readiness benchmarks at the unit level in order to better prepare the unit to respond to its Defense Support to Civil Authorities mission.

“Secondly, I wanted to reinforce and strengthen the skills of the company as it related to its wartime mission as a direct combat support MP company,” Duggan said.

While at Fort Pickett for the first half of annual training, the 266th qualified 32 Soldiers on the M4 rifle and 18 troops on the M9, bringing the unit’s qualification rate for the year to 90.8 % for the rifle and 100% for the M9.

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company train on a Virtual Interactive Combat Environment trainer July 23, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. The VICE trainer includes realistic scenarios using lifelike weapons and is one of many training facilities offered at Camp Pendleton. The 266th conducted its two-week annual training at both Fort Pickett and Camp Pendleton, with a focus on reinforcing and strengthening the skills of the company as it relates to its wartime mission as a direct combat support MP company. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

A Virginia National Guard Soldier from the Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company trains on a Virtual Interactive Combat Environment trainer July 23, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. The VICE trainer includes realistic scenarios using lifelike weapons and is one of many training facilities offered at Camp Pendleton. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Thirty-two Soldiers of the 266th also completed drivers training for the Armored Security Vehicle and Light Medium Tactical Vehicle during AT.

In addition, 18 troops qualified as new Combat Life Savers, with a minimum of one Soldier per squad.

As part of a new DSCA requirement, six MP Soldiers qualified as chainsaw operators, meaning the unit is “100% compliant for our response package for DSCA operations,” Duggan said.

While at Fort Pickett the 266th also conducted three traffic control points for thre days at the request of Range Control. They checked vehicle dispatches, licenses, proper safety gear and vehicle speeds.

After convoying in military vehicles to Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach following a week at Fort Pickett, the 266th conducted training with the Virtual Interactive Combat Environment trainer and the Call For Fire Trainer. The VICE trainer includes realistic scenarios using lifelike weapons where Soldiers can patrol the streets and gather intelligence in a foreign land.

“You can practice at the MOUT site but the enemy never really shoots back,” said Spc. Ashley Mullins. “In here they’re shooting back at your character so it makes you have to communicate more and put to use the skills you practice at the MOUT site.”

Meanwhile, the members of the 266th were also competing in the MP Squad Challenge while at both locations.

The purpose of the squad competition was to find a different way of incorporating the five MP functions into a large-scale training event that tested every one of these areas as well as basic leadership and Soldier skills, according to Duggan. The five MP functions are area security, maneuver & mobility support operations, law & order, internment & resettlement and police intelligence.

“The squad competition was a chance to evaluate the unit’s Soldiers on a wide variety of skills and tasks,” said 1st Lt. Robert Maffeo, the executive officer of the 266th MP Co. “We’ve gotten away from some of our basic Soldier stuff and this is an opportunity to get back to the basics.”

The competition, which spanned seven days and both locations of annual training, tested the Soldiers both physically and mentally. Some of the scored events, such as marksmanship, occurred before AT and were factored in to the final score as well.

The squads were tested on eight events. At the beginning of AT, an APFT was given and the score of all squad members was combined to create a squad average.

They were also scored on both their M4 and M9 qualification scores, as well as the M9 and M4 stress fire with reflexive fire.

A written examination of 50 questions covering MP Corps history, U.S. Army history and general military knowledge was also given to each Soldier.

A five-mile ruck run with a full kit was conducted at Camp Pendleton. The squads were scored based on time for the entire team.

In squad lanes, each squad ran two missions on consecutive days and was evaluated on the entire mission process from beginning to end.

Finally there was a mystery event covering basic Soldier skill that Duggan chose and did not disclose until each squad was actually at the site to be tested. It turned out to be drill and ceremony and squad leaders were given five minutes to practice with a list of 20 movements, featuring both stationary and marching commands. After the list was taken away and the squads executed their commands, they were graded on their execution of the movements.

The competition was won by 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon and 1st Squad, 1st Platoon finished second.

“The goal was to reinforce teamwork, MP skills and espirit de corps, and I feel it met its intent,” Duggan said. “I wanted to use the squad competition as a gauge for a larger event going forward. Depending on how successful it was, I planned to work on a state MP squad competition involving both the 229th MPs and the 266th MPs, with a three-day event being evaluated by 183rd RTI (Regional Training Institute) next summer.”

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