Virginia MPs train at Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Training Center

Military Police from the Virginia Beach-based 229th Military Police Company conduct mounted and dismounted patrols at the Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Training Facility June 21. The training at the facility spanned three days and was the final exercise of the unit’s two-week annual training period. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Past grazing horses and down a few winding country roads, lies the Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Training Center, where Virginia Guard Soldiers from the Virginia-Beach based 229th Military Police Company trained June 20-22. The training exercise, which focused largely on mounted and dismounted patrols, was the culminating exercise at the end of the unit’s two-week annual training period.

“We’re using the Virginia Beach Police Department’s training facility partially because it’s closer to where our armory is and partially because they just have very solid and very good resources for us to use here that allows the Soldiers to experience something different,”
said Capt. John Hinton, commander of the 229th Military Police Company.

The training facility is outfitted with a variety of training areas, all located within a relatively compact area, including an urban training area complete with apartment buildings, townhomes, a convenience store and bank, as well as various wooded areas and roadways.

“Most of the Soldiers really like this training site. There’s a lot of different types of environments that can be used within a small area which allows us to do a lot of training all at one site and the Soldiers can rotate from different scenarios quickly,” Hinton said.

“This has been excellent. I think it’s an opportunity for some really great training. The resources they have here are really outstanding so it’s a fantastic training opportunity,” said Spc. David Donahoe, military police officer with the 229th MPs.

The chance for Virginia Guard Soldiers to train at the Virginia Beach Police Department’s facility came about a few years ago. A Soldier in the unit was a Virginia Beach Police Officer and was able to set up the training. More recently, Hinton was able to reach out to another Virginia Guard contact at the Police Department and again request the use of their training facility, which they used last year as well.

“The Virginia Beach Police Department has been extremely helpful to us. This is the second year they’ve assisted us by allowing us to train here,” Hinton said.

Part of the National Guard’s responsibility in the event of a local disaster, whether man-made or natural, is to assist local authorities as needed and as requested by the governor of Virginia, a factor that could have the 229th MPs working with the Virginia Beach Police Department in a real world situation.

“I think one of the reasons they’ve been so helpful is because they recognize that if something were to happen we might be working with them so they kind of see it as a benefit for them too, that we’re getting the best training that we can,” Hinton said.

Like their contact at the Virginia Beach Police Department, many of the Soldiers in the unit have experience in careers related to law enforcement or public safety. Donahoe, a new member of the unit, had extensive experience before joining the Guard in roles as both a police officer and EMT.

“I feel nothing can truly prepare you to be a Soldier. It’s a different job totally unto itself, but I do believe all those activities along the way gave me a bit of a leg up in training and in understanding certain concepts,” Donahoe said.

“We have a number of our people who are police officers and EMTs. We have a lot of different experiences from the civilian side and having that background helps when we’re trying to work with local police departments here and it also helps in a deployed environment because they are the type of experiences that are helpful when we are working with Iraqi Police or Afghani Police,” said Hinton.

Along with civilian law enforcement experience, many of the Soldiers also bring skills and knowledge they gained while deployed to the training.

“There’s definitely a benefit of coming out here, working through a lot, because you’re able to take a lot of things, not only from what we’ve all been trained in, but also from experiences overseas and add that to our training,” Donahoe said.

At the end, Hinton hopes the Soldiers leave the training with a greater sense of cohesion.

“Hopefully the squads will be a little bit more comfortable working with each other and they’ll have refined some of their tactics, especially with the dismounted and mounted patrols,” he said.

To view photos from the event, visit:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157630254086154/with/7427495098/