Guard’s quick reactionary force stays prepared

Published 3:20 pm Thursday, October 19, 2006

Members of the Mississippi Army National Guard’s 114th and 113th Military Police Companies of Clinton and Brandon, Miss., respectively, serve as a special quick reactionary force (QRF) as part of the this nation’s Homeland Security operations, and also serve around the world as a top notch protection force for both military and civilian communities at home and abroad. Recently about 40 QRF Soldiers participated in a routine task force exercise to reinforce mission skills and keep them prepared for whatever call comes their way, according to the 112th Military Battalion’s top enlisted leader, Sgt. Maj. Kevin Donahoe.

“The purpose of this exercise is twofold,” said Donahoe. “We are here to conduct our homeland security mission and get our troops coordinating with the local law enforcement, while trying to work out any potential problems. Every time we conduct these exercises we find potential problem areas, so our second purpose is to bring together cohesiveness to function as a team and find solutions.”

Donahoe stressed the importance of communications during operations, saying, “Communications is most essential-more critical than not having your weapon without it you will get killed.” He commended the QRF teams for their performance during the Sept. 22 exercise.

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Constantly coordinating with forward and rear emergency operations centers, the QRF is responsible for clearing and securing buildings and facilities of weapons, insurgents or anything that looks suspicious, said 151 Lt. Demetrius Wilson, officer-in charge of Task Force Alpha who arrived at the training site via helicopter and went in to the clear the area. “After clearing and cordoning off entrances, Task Force Bravo will come in and establish the perimeter and provide security to ensure what needs to stay outside the perimeter stays out, while providing safe clearance for emergency vehicles, like ambulances, coming in and out of the area.”

In a homeland security scenario, the QRF would relieve local law enforcement entities and work with local emergency operations teams as well as the Mississippi Army National Guard’s 4th Civil Support Team, located in Jackson, Miss., who provide support to defuse any potential hazards at locations within the borders of Mississippi and other areas around the country that require the teams’ support.

Providing security is the main mission of military police personnel both at home and abroad, something that the Mississippi Guard’s military police teams know all too well both in practice and battlefield conditions.

The most recent test of their skills was during Hurricane Katrina. The QRF was quick to converge on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after the killer storm swept ashore, . leaving a path of destruction throughout the entire state. They provided untold hours of security, surveillance and rescue missions around the clock giving much relief to masses of victims along the coast. Because of the expertise and rapid response of the team and other members of the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard, mission essential operations were carried out with few security and safety issues and problems were minimized on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The call for military police assistance is expected during wartime. The entire 11th Military Police Battalion served during Desert Storm and Desert Shield, and was among the first called during the Persian Gulf War. During Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, the 114th MP Co. was deployed to Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Hood, Texas, as the posts’ security force and at Guantanamo Bay to perform detainee operations. The 1131 MP Co., performed force protection for coalition troops located in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.

All Soldiers of the Mississippi National Guard’s military police units and the QRF team say they can be called up at any time because of their dual role, so sustained training is vital. The professionalism and versatility of the battalion’s QRF is widely known and they can stand proud of their reputation to accomplish their mission both at home and overseas.