MPs practice counterterrorism tactics
(Credit – Scott Prater, Mountaineer Staff Writer)
As instructors looked on intently, a small team of 759th Military Police Battalion Soldiers mounted a simulated assault on a school bus Sept. 28, 2017. During the drill, MP teams attempted to apprehend an active shooter who had holed up inside the bus. Later that day, teams practiced a similar maneuver inside Mountainside Elementary School, only there, they were forced to open doors and search large areas in an effort to find and apprehend suspects.
It was all part of a weeklong counterterrorism training event for the MPs, who hoped to improve on a variety of skill sets and gain confidence in their abilities.
Civilian instructors with Controlled F.O.R.C.E. Training Management Systems provided the training for a group of 18 MPs. As part of the course, instructors taught individual and team tactical response techniques, close-quarter combat, small team movement and tactics, weapons proficiency, precision tactical engagement, and leadership training.
“The instructors were here for two weeks and they conducted a week of training for two separate groups,” said Capt. David Alm, assistant operations and training officer, 759th MP Bn. “The key aspect here was that the instructors pushed each class to a proficiency standard as opposed to a time standard.”
Controlled F.O.R.C.E. master instructor Kevin Rittenhouse said the training is cumulative in nature, in that students start with close-quarter combat techniques then move on to individual weapons training and team tactical activities later in the week. By the end of the training, MP teams were maneuvering through training building and using nonlethal training ammunition to subdue simulated active shooters.
“We teach how to take a person from a standing to a prone position without hurting yourself or the person you are taking down,” he said. “Then we start adding things to that. We make the students good with their hands and then change the dynamic again.”
The idea, Rittenhouse explained, is to make students good weapon handlers. So, instructors do things such as forcing them to use their non-dominant hand as opposed to their dominant hand.
“We want to introduce something that forces a person to make a transition,” he said. “We want them to make a quick, fast, hard decision so they can articulate and justify what they are doing.”
By design, 759th MP Bn. leaders combined MPs from a variety of units to make up each class, including some members of the battalion’s Special Reaction Team (SRT).
“It was great to be able to train with our SRT members,” said Spc. Paola Hollingsworth, 59th MP company. “This is standardized training, so if I’m first on the scene in an active-shooter scenario and the SRT shows up, we should be able to work together well.”
A corporal SRT member said that SRT members use similar tactics in their own training, but that this civilian law enforcement course of instruction was beneficial because it brought MPs up to speed with what other law enforcement agencies are doing around the country.
“This provided us with more tactics for a toolbox, so to speak,” the corporal said. “The idea is to keep learning. You find tactics that you like, teach them to your battle buddies and incorporate them into what you do. There are so many ways to do this job, and it’s beneficial to learn as much as you can. For me, I really liked the hand-to-hand techniques that they taught here, and the instructors built on what we learned during the first few days. I’m more confident in that area now.”