Military Police and the Battlefield Clearance TeamBy Lee Hardstaff May 13, 2019
I am the Platoon (Pl) Commander of 2 Pl, A Company (Coy) 1 MP Battalion (Bn), and this is a short article on my personal experiences leading the Platoon that was assigned to the 3 Brigade (Bde) Battlefield Clearance Team (BCT) on EX TALISMAN SABRE (EX TS) 17.
The foundations for the BCT were laid in Sep 16, when A Coy 1 MP Bn, the READYING MP Coy in support of 3 Bde Road to War, was tasked to provide a Platoon sized element to 3 Combat Service Support Brigade (3 CSSB) for a Brigade Combat Arms Training Activity.
The operation of the BCT was initially based around the amalgamation of the 3 Bde Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of a BCT and the 3CSSB SOP on Battlefield Replenishment. The concept included MP and medics mounted in Protected Mobility Vehicle IOT deal with captured personnel and battlefield casualties. This was embedded amongst a much larger element predominantly consisting of CSSB platforms that could deal with the mass lift of personnel and their equipment (both enemy and friendly), damaged vehicles and a limited resupply capability.
The intent of the BCT was to provide a highly mobile and survivable tailored solution that could provide specialist close combat support to events occurring as a result of large scale kinetic activity.
Roles and Responsibilities
The fundamental role of the MP within the BCT was focussed on supporting the internment and detention operations function. The receipt of captured personnel (CPERS) worked on a push/pull system. This was more than often facilitated by the BCT being enacted prior to H-Hour, enabling the complete callsign (C/S) to push to a forward rendezvous (RV) and wait for CPERS to either be extracted to the RV location by integral BG BCT elements, or required elements of the BCT would push forward IOT conduct a handover/takeover (HOTO).
This was generally dictated by the number of CPERS required to be back loaded and the complexity of the terrain surrounding the objective.
Although the deployable MP Coy was a lodger unit within the Brigade Maintenance Area (BMA), the MP BCT element was permanently detached and remained collocated with the other BCT C/S either within or external to the BMA. The MP element consisted of two, eight pers sections each led by a section commander, with the Pl sergeant and Pl commander also bolstering the command of each element. The overall command of the BCT fell under a 3 CSSB major, which was the next direct level in the chain-of-command, who would subsequently report any CPERS activity back to the MP command headquarters.
All resupply was conducted through the CSSB, with sustainment often being required for up to 72 hours due to the likelihood of operating away from the BMA for extended periods of time.
Activities undertaken by MP in BCT
- Processing and handling of CPERS post HOTO from combat teams and battle groups.
- Back-loading of CPERS to the internment and detention facility within the BMA.
- Security escort tasks of CPERS who are 'High Value Individuals' and are identified for exploitation.
- Security escort tasks to the engineer firefighters.
- Supplementing battle group level BCTs during surge periods IOT provide increased CPERS processing and handling capability.
Key Observations, Insights and Lessons
In order to effectively support a Combat Brigade (Cbt Bde), like vehicle platforms are essential in order to provide a seamless interoperability solution. Two PMV platforms were provided to my MP Pl by the CSSB for CombIned Arms Training Activity (CATA) and Ex TS 17. These proved ideal for the tasks we were required to undertake due to their protection, extended range firepower and ability to lift numerous CPERS and equipment.
Working hand in hand with the Intelligence Exploitation Team was an excellent opportunity to improve our interoperability. It also provided the basis for enhancing the understanding of what skills and capabilities our respective trades are capable of bringing to the table.
During EX TS17 the Bde internment and detention facility and the theatre exploitation facility were separated by substantial distances. I believe it would better serve both parties to co-locate the two facilities within the Force Maintenance Area. This would require still maintaining a smaller ‘Captured Assembly Point’ (CAP) within the BMA, as was trialled during EX ROLGA RUN 16 and proven to be feasible.
Due to the high tempo experienced during joint operation training exercises such as EX TS17, the requirement to be increasingly flexible and adaptable to a changing battlespace needed to be taken into consideration. Meeting these demands as they arose was often quite challenging; however, sustainable and workable solutions were implemented by adapting to a given situation based on available time and space as well as personnel and resources. At the culmination of EX TS 17, the MP contribution to the BCT were effectively trained to meet the demands of modern conflict, and provided a robust capability to the Cbt Bde.