RAPID CITY, S.D. – The South Dakota Army National Guard’s 235th Military Police Company conducted a field training exercise April 10 at West Camp Rapid to prepare for its state and federal missions.
The primary mission of the 235th is detainee operations. The company can also provide internal and external security for facilities. The field training exercise, or FTX, prepares Soldiers by rehearsing tactics, techniques, procedures, coordination and team building.
“This is a great experience to get outside and get back to the basics of soldiering,” said Capt. Pat Moran, commander of the 235th. “There’s a little bit of chaos so they can think on their feet and so the junior enlisted are looking to their leaders for advice in an uncomfortable situation.”
Soldiers rehearsed combat patrols, enemy prisoner of war operations and detainee operations and transports.
“The training we’ve done is a culminating event to take some of our mission-essential tasks we have to do as an MP company and put them all into one big exercise,” said Sgt. Derek Malone, a squad leader for the 235th. “This way, we’re able to train on multiple aspects of a mission that we will eventually be assigned and enable us to fine-tune our skills.”
The 235th deployed three times since it was formed in 1999 and recently converted from a law enforcement company to a military police detention company.
“The thing I’m looking forward to most is growing in my squad leader role and being able to be a good leader to the Soldiers I’ll have under me,” said Malone. “To get hands-on and have that first-line level of leadership with your Soldiers is a great experience to get.”
There are two detachments for the 235th, one in Rapid City and the other in Sioux Falls, and they come together for training only a couple of times a year. This FTX was the first time they’ve trained together since Moran took command in October.
“The second purpose is for leadership evaluation,” Moran said. “We are a detention correction facility company, but it’s important to see leadership aspects out in the field and to see basic soldiering skills so junior enlisted Soldiers can look up to their squad leaders.”
While the FTX provided unit members the opportunity to rehearse and train on mission-essential tasks, the main priority was to hone leadership skills by placing Soldiers in uncomfortable situations so they learn from their experiences.
“The intent for this FTX wasn’t to evaluate tactics of Soldiers; it was to evaluate leadership,” said Moran. “I wanted to see how the platoon sergeants conducted operations uncomfortably and get them back to basic soldiering skills so they’re ready for anything.”