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August 4, 2020
Third Infantry Division (Mechanized) After Action Report - Operation Iraqi Freedon

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Chapter 24 Provost Marshal (PM)

The 3rd Military Police Company and Provost Marshal Special Staff, comprised of 210 officers, noncommissioned officers (NCOs), and soldiers, expended a Herculean effort to support the Third Infantry Division (Mechanized) as it destroyed Iraqi forces in zone. Our job was made more difficult due to the fact that a corps military police company was not attached to the division. Each brigade combat team received one direct support platoon while the remaining general support platoons conducted enemy prisoner of war (EPW) operations. The division main command post (DMAIN) and division rear command post (DREAR) received one officer and one NCO while the remaining 18 personnel remained with the provost marshal in order to conduct the command and control of EPW operations. The provost marshal received the 30th Criminal Investigation Division (CID), judge advocate general (JAG), embedded media, forward surgical team, area medical support company, tactical human intelligence (HUMINT) team, linguists, and three 5-ton trucks (with drivers) as attachments at the initial attack position and detached after the establishment of TF BAGHDAD. The task organization was absolutely essential for the unit to accomplish its one specified task, conduct EPW operations.

The 3rd MP Company conducted reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (RSOI) escort missions for 20,000 personnel with an untold amount of Army prepositioned stock (APS) and home station equipment. The company crossed the line of departure (LD) along Lane 10, established the first of five division central collection points, crossed 350 miles of desert to establish the high value detainee facility in support of TF BAGHDAD, and re-deployed with all of its organic personnel. At the conclusion of hostilities, the unit had processed in excess of 2,091 enemy prisoners of war, civilian internees, and high value detainees.

The 3rd Military Police Company would best serve the division if it were restructured and resourced as a corps military police company. In addition, embed a long-range and stable communication system (HF or tactical satellite [TACSAT]) into each MP team in order to extend their area of operations while improving communication within the urban canyons of a city. Also, embed an FBCB 2 on each platform to facilitate the command and control of MP operations across the future combat system asynchronous battlefield. The MK-19 failed to provide the effective rates of fire due to fouled ammunition; however, the —249 provided the necessary rates of fire to defeat or break enemy contact. The arming distance of MK-19 prevented its use during the close fight (Reference the fight at the escarpment by 1/3 MP Platoon). Dual weapon mounts (MK-19 and —249) are a lifesaver. In addition, the up armored M114 high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV), with gunner shield, once again proved that it does save lives and is a valuable combat multiplier.

Additional issues and corrective actions are provided so that future MP leaders can anticipate and/or mitigate the effects of these issues on combat operations.

Lessons Learned

  • Training and tactics: NTC was a vital event and drove the success of the direct support (DS) MP platoons. The CTC experience proved to be invaluable.
  • Movement: During the course of combat operations numerous main supply routes were clogged with units trying to move north to support the fight. In some cases, convoys were halted for as far as the eye could see. A primary factor that contributed to the inefficiency of convoy operations was that serials were too large. In some cases units would move in serials that numbered in the hundreds of prime movers. It was discovered that serials of more manageable numbers, 40-50 vehicles maximum, assisted in the efficient forward movement of assets.
  • Small Arms: Magazines for the —4 and the —9 pistol were found to be of poor quality in a harsh desert environment. When compared to the magazines for the AK-47, they were not as well built nor as sturdy. Magazines left unattended and not cleaned daily were found to malfunction more often than well-maintained magazines.
  • Crew Served: The MK-19 failed to provide the effective rates of fire due to fouled ammunition; however, the —249 provided the necessary rates of fire to defeat or break enemy contact. Arming distance of MK-19 and slow traversing/elevation characteristics of the system placed the MP force at risk in a close fight (escarpment fight by 1st MP Platoon). Dual weapon mounts (MK-19 and —249) are a lifesaver.
  • Prime Mover: The light medium tactical vehicle (LMTV) was highly maneuverable. Older versions of the 2 ½ and 5-ton trucks easily got stuck in the sand. There was never a single incident of an LMTV getting stuck; in fact it was used to pull older trucks.
  • Team Vehicle: The M1114 saved several soldiers lives. The armor did its job, and the gun shields proved very effective against small arms fire.
  • Soldier Equipment: Soldiers found the load bearing vest (LBV) to be very uncomfortable and impractical when worn with body armor. Most soldiers did away with their LBV as soon as they could obtain ammo pouches for the body armor or other alternatives.

Topic A - Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration (RSOI)

Issue: Military police units were not front-loaded on the movement to Kuwait and had to support RSOI and build combat power simultaneously.

Discussion: The unit was not deployed until late January after many combat units were already in theater, which made it difficult for the unit to support staging and onward movement. The company had to immediately conduct RSOI escort missions within 24 hours of wheels down and still build combat power and inventory their own equipment. The unit supported RSOI right up to the tactical movement of the division to the assembly areas (AAs) and had very little time for training, last minute equipment checks, and getting property book items taken care of. Initially military police assets were scheduled to flow into theater as the next to last unit on the time-phased force and deployment (TPFD). This created an additional hardship on combat forces to provide their own force protection during convoy security operations. Third Infantry Division (Mechanized) (3ID [M]) quickly identified the need for additional MP support in theater, and MPs had to flow into theater on short notice, 20 days earlier than reflected on the TPFD.

Recommendation: Front load the 3rd MP Company in order to draw equipment first and to be able to support follow-on units with staging and onward movement. During all future deployments MPs should arrive in theater early in the deployment process to better support force protection and convoy security. This is absolutely essential in order to get combat forces forward as soon as possible.

Issue: The 3rd MP Company had four different APS draws from two different APS stocks.

Discussion: The unit arrived on at least seven different flights from September to January and did four different equipment draws from two different Army prepositioned stocks (APSs). At one time the unit had five different property books with two different hand receipt holders. This caused accountability issues not only with the unit but also the APS personnel who could not track what we actually had drawn. Also the APS 5 personnel could not find containers express (CONEXs) they wanted the unit to sign for. The unit had to personally search both Doha and Arifjan to find its equipment, then arrange its own transportation.

Recommendation: Consolidate the company as much as possible and front-load them to cut down on the number of separate draws the unit has to do. If the MPs are front-loaded, then they can also support RSOI instead of trying to draw equipment and support RSOI at the same time. If the unit were to deploy early and all platoons stay operational control (OPCON) to the company until onward movement is complete, it would better support the division and assist with property accountability.

Issue: Logistical problem during integration.

Discussion: The biggest problem encountered during integration was logistics and getting equipment and supplies to the unit. The unit could not get the required amount of tires for the vehicles and trailers to support the mission. Equipment was lost during movement because we could not get the required tires and rims needed to accomplish the mission. The unit saw the need and tried to get the required equipment but never received the equipment due to equipment being back ordered. Other major logistical issues included the ability to get glint tape, thermal tape, combat identification panels (CIP), water cans, fuel cans, and small arms protective insert vest plates. Another major issue was the availability of LSAT for the MK-19. We tried to get LSAT prior leaving the states and when we arrived in Kuwait and could not get any. Many times we found that units had excess of things we needed, while others had nothing. As a separate unit under division troops, the military police did not get as much attention for equipment and supplies as the Brigades. When requesting assistance through G4 the first response was, "it was given out to the Brigades."

Recommendation: Make contingency operations (CONOPS) dollars available prior to deployment so they can deploy with the required equipment. Some items like tires and rims would require more money and relaxing the requirement under overage recoverable item list (ORIL).

B - Weapons

Issue: Inoperability of MK-19 ammunition.

Discussion: The MK-19 was prone to malfunctions in the desert because of the sand and issue of old ammunition. The weapons had to be kept dry so the sand would not stick to the weapon and cause a malfunction when firing. On several different occasions when MPs had contact, they had to resort to the M249 because either the ammo was bad or the contact was too close for the rounds to arm. The MK-19 is not sufficient to engage armor vehicles by itself and the potential for engaging massed dismounted troops at distances over 1,000 is minimal. The 50-caliber machine gun would provide sufficient firepower to engage and defeat the majority of threats military police typically encounter. Also, units deploying to NTC are issued 50 calibers instead of the MK-19 because there is no MILES for the MK-19. This is typically the first time units experience the 50 calibers. If they had them assigned, it would provide a smooth transition during this major training exercise. On most deployments, the base cluster commander typically does not want 40 mm high explosive dual purpose (HEDP) ammunition within the perimeter, so the majority of escorts conducted by military police are done with a M249, which does not provide the penetration power of a 7.62 mm or 50 caliber round. With the current weapons’ mix, we are giving a false sense of security to the convoys we support.

Recommendation: Military police would be better served by a 50 caliber or M240B direct fire weapon. Most engagements military police encounter would be at close range and would be better served by these weapons systems. A two to one mix of 50 cal and MK-19 per squad, at a minimum, is recommended. Replace the M249 with the M240B.

Topic C - Vehicles

Issue: Prime Movers

Discussion: The major equipment shortages, in relation to the heavy division MP company MTOE, are with the prime movers. The company had two fuelers and four 2½ ton trucks, the MTOE, however, only authorizes the company one medium tactical vehicle (MTV) and two LMTVs, which would not have been enough to accomplish the mission. The LMTV was very maneuverable. Older versions of the 2 ½ and 5-ton trucks easily got stuck in the sand. There was never a single incident of an LMTV getting stuck; in fact it was used to pull older trucks out.

Recommendation: The MTOE should add at least one fueler, a wrecker, and two LMTVs for a total of four prime movers to the MTOE. Another option to compensate for the fueler would be to have trailers to mount the fuel pods that already exist on the division MP company MTOE. The heavy division moves too fast and without these additions would not have been able to support the division. Support units were often too far behind to support.

Topic D - Communications

Issue: Communications equipment. Due to the dispersed nature of military police assets on the battlefield the current SINCGARS radio configuration made it impossible for C 2 elements to track and direct their MP teams.

Discussion: The only communications equipment the unit had prior to deploying was SINCGARs and AM radios. With the distance between units on the battlefield reaching 60 km and more, the equipment was insufficient to maintain contact throughout the fight. Prior to crossing the LD, the battalion was issued two Iridium phones to fill this void. These were supposed to solve all communications problems, but proved less then reliable and it was not until seven days into the fight that they worked on a consistent basis. Eventually the unit was hand receipted a TACSAT radio to maintain communications and receive updates from the division staff. The company had no working PRC-129 radios, so talking within the perimeter was non-existent other then by field phones. When the company was separated as it came through the berm, it was capable of relaying messages by the Maneuver Control System (MCS) of the attached medical unit. For the first three days of the war the unit was in information blackout. We were the last unit through Lane 10 and had no form of communication with higher headquarters. During the course of combat operations, division military police teams were required to support the full spectrum of operations often over 50 kilometers from their C 2 element. Inefficient communication causes inadequate command and control and puts our soldiers and leaders at risk.

Recommendation: Reliable portable radios need to be fielded that offer secure communication. At a minimum, platoon leaders need to be fielded with Force XXI battle command brigade and below (FBCB 2 ) so the commander can maintain situational awareness of his units and have contact with higher headquarters. Also, all vehicles, to include prime movers, need radios because they will be dispatched to drop off supplies or recover vehicles and need to maintain communications in the event they become disoriented. An additional radio set should be authorized by MTOE to allow for a base station unit without having to take a radio in and out of vehicle each time the unit jumps. Increase the communications capability for all military police platforms. The Movement Tracking System (MTS) would be an excellent C 2 package that would easily adapt to the high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV). The Army Medical Specialist Corps (AMSC) companies from Fort Hood that traveled as part of our task force had these systems, and they were able, within seconds, to identify the location of their elements arrayed on the battlefield, as well as send email. MTS is an excellent capability that would instantly solve our long-range communication problems and is recommended for the company commander, first sergeant, platoon leaders, and platoon sergeants.

Issue: Lack of ability to monitor and communicate with higher headquarters (division main command post [DMAIN]/division tactical operation center [DTAC]/ division rear command post [DREAR]).

Discussion: This is another force modernization issue. By MTOE, we are not authorized a TACSAT nor are we authorized a small extension node (SEN) team for much needed digital nonsecure voice telephone (DNVT) and SIPRNET capability. During the fight, and after in stability and support operations (SASO), the division commander held a commander’s update twice daily. Once again the only communication capability we had was FM (which at best is good up to 18 km). The division provost marshal (PM) cell was left out of the command information loop during critical events and had no capability to talk with key C 2 nodes, nor did the division have the capability to communicate with my command post. Most of our communication was through relay with whatever BCT was within range, a poor and inefficient way to do business.

Recommendation: TACSAT authorization and priority should be established based on mission for a SEN team for DNVT and SIPRNET connectivity.

Topic E - Doctrine

Issue: Corps MP company doctrinal slice

Discussion: In order to accomplish our mission set, in support of not only the division, but also TF BAGHDAD, we intentionally took additional personnel to C 2 the division central collection points (DCCP), the PM TAC, and the DMAIN and DREAR. These additional personnel provided personnel service support to the general officers (GOs) without having to task the division MP company with these missions. It was particularly important to not task the division company, in light of the fact that we did not at any time throughout the operation receive our doctrinal slice corps MP company from V Corps. We supported the full spectrum of division operations, kept up with the fight, and transitioned into Phase IV SASO with only three general support (GS) platoons and the extra manpower we brought to build up capability in the division PM cell.

Recommendation: MTOE should be modified across the division MP cells to support division operations. We could not have effectively accomplished the mission without the following capability in the absence of our doctrinal slice: (1) PM – LTC (2) DPM - MAJ (3) DIV PM OPERATIONS NCO – SGM (4) DCCP NCOIC – MSG X 2 (5) BATTLE CPT – CPT X 2 (6) BATTLE NCOIC – SFC X 2 (7) DESK SERGEANT – SSG X 2 (8) MPI – SGT X 2 (9) TAI – SGT X 2 (10) ADMIN ASSISTANT – SPC X 2 (11) PM DRIVER - SPC X 1 (12) DMAIN/DREAR LNO – 1LT X 2 (13) DMAIN/DREAR NCO – SSG X 2

Note: When running continuous operations from deployment, conflict operations (war), through SASO, it is absolutely essential that every position have two personnel to maintain battle rhythm and operations tempo (OPTEMPO).

Issue: In order to support the enemy prisoner of war (EPW) mission it was necessary to task-organize to ensure that we met the requirements of the Geneva Convention.

Discussion: In order to cope with all aspects of EPW operations, we formed an EPW task force composed of MPs, staff judge advocate (SJA), military intelligence (MI), linguist, AMSC, fire support team (FST), and embedded media. This expertise gave us the capability to immediately deal with all aspects of requirements as outlined in the Geneva Convention and to meet the division intelligence and commander’s priority intelligence requirements (PIR). Many EPWs arrived at the DCCP wounded. Attached medical support allowed us to care for Level I, II, and III patients freeing up the forward support battalion (FSB) medical assets to treat friendly casualties. The linguist was an invaluable asset that provided an immediate capability to assist us in directing EPWs from initial reception, through processing, daily sustainment operations, and evacuation of EPWs to corps. Legal support was also a “must” to ensure that the laws of war and Geneva Convention articles were followed.

Recommendation: EPW operations require a joint effort to be a success. Based on the formation of this task force we were able to sustain our self throughout the operation with minimal support from outside organizations.

Adapting while fighting: Doctrine is a sound base line when it comes to EPW operations; however, based on the circumstances, environment, and limited resources, we had to make adjustments as to how the forward collection point (FCP) and DCCP were set up without sacrificing accountability, Geneva Convention privileges, or security. Mission, enemy, terrain, troops, and time available (METT-T) drove the design of the FCP and DCCP regardless of location throughout the battlespace.

Issue: Transition from high intensity conflict to SASO.

Discussion: While the division was transitioning to SASO operations, the military police were still focused on EPWs that were trickling in from the BCTs. When corps relieved us at the DCCP and the unit moved forward to Baghdad International Airport (BIA), we quickly transitioned to SASO type operations. The unit’s main focus during the transition was police intelligence gathering, security escorts, VIP escorts, and forward passage of lines (FPOL).

Recommendation: Have a plan for the transition, especially host nation police building. The sooner the host nation has its police force up and running the sooner the streets return to normal. Stop looting as fast as you can and have a plan to collect information. If you are receiving a lot of information at checkpoints or traffic control points (TCPs) get MI personnel and an interpreter involved and on the scene. We were physically unable to meet this recommendation to work with host nation police because we did not have our doctrinal slice of a corps MP company.

Topic F - Training

Issue: Lack of training on convoy operations and jump TOC (military police support to convoy operations).

Discussion: Prior to the deployment the company had not been to the field with HQ, the three general support platoons, and the PM cell. The major problem was with movement and convoy operations. This problem was compounded by our task force makeup; a medical company, field surgical team, and military intelligence team were added to the convoy. The desert terrain also complicated things. During the RSOI process, it was extremely difficult to support convoys due to no notice departures, numerous changes to start point (SP) times, and lack of positive control by the division transportation officer (DTO). During the course of RSOI the provost marshal’s office identified the need to move assets to Camp Doha to appropriately support convoy SP times and tracking. At one point this required three MP platoons and a C2 cell working 24/7 to support movement.

Recommendation: The division MP HQs, GS platoons and PM cell should deploy to the field as much as possible and practice jumping. After several convoys, we found it worked best to send all the vehicles that could move quickly to the make mission. The HQ’s vehicles along with many of the medical vehicles would bring up the rear and move at a much slower pace. During all future deployments some MP presence should remain at Camp Doha until RSOI is complete.

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