War on Terrorism

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Afghanistan: Guard members lay down the law

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By Army Sgt. Richard Wrigley
1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division

CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan – The primary objective of the 156th Military Police Detachment – attached to the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division – is to keep law and order in Regional Command North.

They have done that ... and so much more.

With just 45 Citizen-Soldiers in the company, they are still able to successfully complete this mission, let alone the multitude of other tasks that they take on, said Army Capt. Kenneth Murray, company commander, 156th MP Det., an Army National Guard unit out of Monaville, W. Va.

Some of these additional responsibilities include mentoring and training the various Afghan National Security Forces and helping with the biometric enrollment of Afghan national prisoners, workers and security forces, said Murray.

Protecting coalition forces while conducting route reconnaissance, area and point security, is also a top priority, he added.

"All of the Soldiers here have gone to schools and are meant to perform in specialized roles, such as criminal investigators, and traffic and accident investigators," said Murray. "Generally a law and order detachment is augmented by another MP company which would handle the patrolling, but here we're forced to be the road MP as well as the investigator.

"To be dealt all the different mission sets that we've been assigned, with the minimal amount of people that we have [the Soldiers] are doing a terrific job."

Investigator Shane Bryant, team chief of investigations at Camp Marmal, also said the unit has made significant advances since the beginning of their deployment.

"It's all about building a strong foundation, and then building on top of that. We're only the second MP unit to be here [at Camp Marmal]," Bryant said. "Looking back to what it was like when we first got here, and to what it is now, our unit has made leaps and bounds."

Success can also be seen in the relationship that has been fostered between the 156th MP Det. and its operational parent unit, the 1st ACB.

"Working with the 1st ACB has been fantastic," said Murray, "The support we've received from the 1st ACB has been outstanding. They've taken us under their wing and treat us just like any of their other subordinate units."

The effect of the MPs has had a positive effect on the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, said Army Lt. Col. Michael Burns, deputy commanding officer of the 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division.

"The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade has definitely benefited from its relationship with the 156th MP Company," said Burns. "There is no doubt in my mind that Soldiers and civilians enjoy a safer and more disciplined environment because of the presence of Captain Murray and his Soldiers."

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