Guest post – Dominick Fuentes
Recently, Brigade Special Troops Battalions (BSTBs) have transitioned to Brigade Engineer Battalions (BEBs). Before this shift, Military Police (MP) platoons were assigned (by MTOE) to Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) one each. Those who’ve been a minority MOS in a unit will likely relate to my platoon leader (PL) experience with one of these MP platoons. This description of my experiences is meant as help for others in similar situations.
Military Police Platoon Leader Job Description
PL for a 42-Soldier MP Platoon in the BSTB, 4IBCT, 10th Mountain Division. Responsible for combat readiness, health, safety, welfare, discipline, morale, and family readiness of the only MP Platoon in the IBCT; trains, directs, and supervises the platoon in tactical operations, basic Soldier skills, and law enforcement duties; responsible for combat readiness of seventy-six weapons, eleven HMMWVs, six Armored Security Vehicles, and all platoon equipment in excess of $10,000,000.
(From my OER, 2013)
Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) of the 4BSTB also held Battalion staff sections, a Support Platoon in the motor pool, and a CBRNE Reconnaissance Platoon. Often, Company training events saw a wide range of MOSs coming together.
Primary Duties of BCT MP Platoon Leader
– Plan, coordinate, execute and evaluate training (Weapons Ranges, Law Enforcement, Maneuver and Mobility Support, Area Security)
– Ensure property accountability and maintenance
– Provide Soldiers with Law Enforcement opportunities to refine their skill-set
– Supervise 42-Soldiers in support of unit readiness
– Develop subordinate leaders
Platoon leadership was the most significant responsibility I’d had in my life up to that time. The majority of the Soldiers were a joy to work with, and I was constantly learning from them. My Company Commander and Platoon Sergeant pushed me hard towards high excellence, even if they were often pushing different directions. My greatest lesson was finding a common ground between the differing decision makers in the Company—a lesson that would serve well during XO duties later on. It was definitely a crucible experience and a year I look on fondly.
As much as I enjoyed PL time, there were plenty of issues. A few Soldiers were commonly making poor decisions that ranged from financial troubles to domestic disputes to hardcore drug abuse. Responses for these Soldiers’ infractions took 75% of my time. However, I am still grateful for what help I could provide these Soldiers as they hit rock bottom. Other negatives included a few BCT/Army systems that slowed or wasted productivity completely.
I am most proud of the fact that my PSG and I built a Law Enforcement duty program from the ground up, qualifying and coordinating for our 4IBCT MPs to go on duty for the first time since the Brigade was activated in 2005. The experience Soldiers gained during this time was crucial to their future success as Military Police.
Tips for Platoon Leaders
– You will soon find that time is your most valuable resource as a leader in the US Army. The better you leverage time with organization and delegation, the more successful you will be.
– The Army pays you to solve and prevent problems. The faster you learn to identify and address the greatest risks to your systems and Soldiers, the fewer distractions your platoon will deal with.
– Build rapport with your supporting personnel. Supply, Maintenance, and Operations NCOs can have a dramatic effect on your mission success, so treat them well. However, if they prove incompetent beyond repair, bring up the issue with your Company Commander.
– Be meticulous with property accountability. I had to pay for lost property at the end of my platoon leader duties. Don’t make the same mistake I did by failing to keep a detailed written account of all platoon property. Remember, you can’t do it all yourself, so delegate some of this process and check it regularly.
– Be approachable. And develop your subordinate leaders to be the same. If Soldiers do not feel comfortable talking about their problems early on, their situations will only grow worse. When you and your leaders stay helpfully engaged, Soldiers will begin to open up. If I could do something differently, it would be setting aside 10 minutes each morning getting to know one Soldier at a time.
– If you are a lone MOS within a greater organization like I was, you are the subject matter expert representing your branch. Be read up on doctrine and prepared to clearly pitch your platoon’s capabilities when the opportunity comes. Your Basic Officer Leadership Course instructors should be willing to help with this even after you graduate.
Dominick Fuentes is an Army Captain. He served as a Military Police Platoon leader for 12 months in the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Polk, LA, from 2012 to 2013. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY and was commissioned as a 2LT in the Military Police Corps in 2011. Dominick is the author of The Lieutenant’s Guide to the US Army, an eBook that helps cadets and 2LTs immerse themselves in the major responsibilities of newly commissioned officers in the US Army, discussing Personal Development, Personnel Management, Property Accountability, Planning Operations, and Problem Solving.