94th MP Battalion Don't Stress Shooting
Camp Henry, Korea- Daegu, South Korea-- A police officer approached the large figure with a baton in hand. With the flashing police car light’s behind him casting shadows in front of him, his flashlight lit up the face of the aggressive, looming figure before him.
“Sir, can I see your hands?”
A simple request from an officer called in to a fight in progress.
“No, you can’t see my hands!” shouted the aggressor.
For a few seconds, the officer assesses the situation, calculating what action to take next. It is a mistake. The man in red shows him his hands, but they are not empty. As the police officer reaches for his gun, it catches in the holster and the scenario is over.
“Reset!” yells the command sergeant major.
Lucky for this young military police officer, the gun is not loaded and the big red man did not really want to end his life. This scenario is what the command sergeant major of the 94th Military Police Battalion had in mind when preparing to host the first week long advanced M9 range for the four subordinate MP companies.
The 94th MP Battalion ran the range to set the standard on how to run ranges based on the eight step training model and to demonstrate how to incorporate the training into each training cycle.
“We wanted to get them to do advanced firing techniques with the M9, not just a basic military police qualification,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Lee Sodic, 94th MP Battalion senior-enlisted advisor. “The average incident, when there's a shooting involving law enforcement, lasts 2.5 seconds. The first time that we draw and clear the weapon from our holsters for reflexive fire or quick fire, (in a real world situation), is not the first time we want them to do it.”
The range was broken up into four days with 20 Soldiers completing the range each day from each of the following four companies: 55th MP Company, 142nd MP Company, 557th MP Company and 188th MP Company. The Soldiers were identified by their chain of command by who needed the experience most.
“I wanted junior soldiers, we wanted junior officers too,” said Sodic. “What these (Soldiers) learn here, they'll take to the next duty station with them and they can build upon them and they can practice them.”
Every day, the range was broken down into three phases. In the first phase, the range cadre worked to ensure that any of the military police officers which were not currently up to date on their qualification, qualified on the M9. In the second phase, they practiced reflexive fire which consisted of engaging targets, shooting on the move and closing the distance from 35 meters to seven meters while shooting. While firing, the safeties would call out numbers that corresponded with targets on the range. The third phase was when the military police officers engaged in a stress shoot. They would react to a mock call of a fight in progress and be armed with a baton. Each Soldier went into the situation by themselves and had to subdue a hostile suspect, who was dressed in a red padded suit referred to as “red man”. Once the red man was subdued, the cadre would fire two rounds at the range to replicate shots being fired at the scene and initiate a reaction to employ lethal force on designated targets. The Soldier would run down to the range and would be guided by safety personnel to shoot at targets while moving.
“It was fun,” said Kyeunbo Kim, military police officer Korean augmentee to the U.S. Army 188th MP Company. “It was very practical and it helped me a lot for real patrol. In Korea an active shooter is really a rare phenomenon, but after that range, I learned how to deal with it and how to react.”
“The experience with the red man was kind of fun,” said Pfc. Zach Skidmore, military police officer with 188th MP Company and Jackson, Ohio, native. “I know how it is to fight someone bigger than me now. I know how I acted before so I know how I'm going to react (next) time.”
“I think they handled it very well,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mark Hooks, 2nd Platoon sergeant for 55th MP Company, and Fyffe, Ala., native. “These soldiers are on the road every day and this training is going to help them protect themselves and others, especially (when) learning how to deal with aggressors.”
Military police officers serve in multiple capacities. This range allowed inexperienced Soldiers to practice their law enforcement techniques in a controlled stressful environment. With more training like this, the Soldier who was lucky to hear “reset” from the command sergeant major, will never have to hear gun fire instead.