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Military Police Corps

The need for military police has been evident to American military commanders since the struggle for national independence. Whenever the United States engaged in warfare, some form of police element emerged to assist its leaders in maintaining various aspects of discipline. Surfacing when necessity dictated, the Military Police Corps evolved through several phases, each meeting the needs of a particular period in American history. Assuming increased responsibilities, military police established their place as combat soldiers who have the professional knowledge and flexibility needed to perform a variety of missions in war and peace.

Although soldiers have been delegated to perform police type duties in the military since the beginning of armies, the seed that germinated into the birth of the modern Military Police Corps in 1941 can be traced back to the American Revolutionary War. At the beginning of the American Revolution, the Continental Army adopted with little change the forms, titles, and administrative procedures of the British Army including those pertaining to military police.

On 1 June 1778, at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, after the harshest winter the Continental Army ever endured, General George Washington formed a special unit-a troop of light dragoons-soldiers on horseback. The troop would be called the Marechaussee Corps. The term Marechaussee was adopted from the French term Marecheaux (Marshow), which were the French provost marshal units dating back to the twelfth century.

The original troop consisted of 63 men under the command of Captain Bartholomew Von Heer, a professional Prussian soldier. The Marechaussee Corps had the duty and responsibility of maintaining order and enforcing the Articles of War in the often unruly and sometimes undependable American Army. The Marechaussee Corps was the first MP-like organization in the United States and performed many duties much like the Army Military Police Corps of today.

While some of their duties did not correspond to modern MP functions, many of their tasks resembled contemporary duties. When the Army was encamped, soldiers of the Marechaussee Corps patrolled the camp and surrounding area, checking passes and papers in search of spies. They arrested rioters, spies, drunkards, deserters, and stragglers, while ejecting merchants attempting to cheat the soldiers.

When the Continental Army was on the move, the Marechaussee Corps patrolled the flanks and rear, watching for spies and stragglers and safeguarding the baggage and supplies. As the infantry and cavalry troops went into battle, the men of the Corps patrolled the roads to the rear and on the flanks, guarding against enemy encroachment while searching for stragglers and deserters. At times, they would move ahead of the Army to locate and protect a crossroad or a river crossing, such as occurred along the Hackensack River in 1780.

The men of this early MP organization also participated in combat, fighting with General Nathaniel Greene's army in the victorious Battle of Springfield, New Jersey, in June 1780. The next year, the Corps protected General Washington and his headquarters during the siege of Yorktown, the last major battle of the American Revolution.

Although the Marechaussee Corps was disbanded in November 1783, the men of that unit established the high standard for behavior and dedication to duty that became the modern-day Military Police motto. They assisted the commander of the Continental Army in maintaining order and safeguarding the rights of the soldiers. They protected the Continental Army and its supplies in camp, on the move and in combat. The soldiers of the Corps defended the nation by capturing spies and establishing discipline in the Army, as well as fighting in the ranks. The soldiers of the Marechaussee Corps were also connected to the crossed flintlock pistols, the symbol of the Military Police Corps. They normally carried a pair of flintlock pistols in holsters on their saddles and used them when necessary.

With these strong connections to the Marechaussee Corps, the Army Military Police Corps is proud to claim heritage to the legacy of The Order of the Marechaussee.

A Provost Marshal General's Office and Corps of Military Police were established in 1941. Prior to that time, except during the Civil War and World War I, there was no regularly appointed Provost Marshal General or regularly constituted Military Police Corps, although a "Provost Marshal" can be found as early as January 1776, and a "Provost Corps" as early as 1778.

The Harper's Ferry Army Arsenal flint lock, Model 1906, caliber .54, were adopted as the insignia of the Corps of Military Police in 1923. The initial design consisted of crossed billy-clubs because that was the primary weapon of the MPs at that time but that symbol became confused with the field artillery crossed cannons. The next proposal was crossed maces, the medieval clubs, but they appeared to be potato mashers. The third proposal was crossed M-1911 .45 caliber automatic pistols but they appeared to be carpenter's squares. Then they agreed on the 1806 Model of the Harper's Ferry pistols and it was adopted. The order was signed by the Chief of Staff, General John J. Pershing in 1923 and became official.

There are a few theories as to how the Military Police Corps acquired the colors of green and yellow. The uniform coats of the enlisted dragoons during the American Revolution were green with black trim and yellow buttons and button holes. In World War I, the military police of the American Expeditionary Force in France wore a yellow and green cord on their hats. The MP Corps has the same lineage as the Calvary, both having originated with the Dragoons, thus the yellow of the Calvary was retained. The green was taken from the staff of the Provost Marshall Branch. In any case, in 1921 the colors of green and yellow were officially adopted for the Army Military Police with green on the field of yellow. In 1941 the colors were reversed with yellow on green.

The most recent landmark development in the evolution of the Military Police Corps occurred on 26 September 1986. On that date, the 45th Anniversary of the founding of the Corps, the Department of the Army activated the Military Police Corps Regiment and designated Fort McClellan, Alabama, as its home.

On 22 March 2001, the Department of the Army (DA) approved Field Manual (FM) 3-19.1 and posted it to the Reimer Digital Library (RDL) on 5 April 2001. The commandant had previously approved the final draft on 18 July 2000. With this approval, the MP Corps finally bid farewell to the 1988 version and welcomed the new millennium with relevant and much-needed and revised MP doctrine.


Military Police units, both active and reserve, deployed throughout the world. (Current as of 31 October 2000)


OPERATION/UNIT

DEPLOYED LOCATION

FORSCOM/USAREUR/USACIDC

HONDURAS
988th MP Co(-) (CSC), Ft Benning, GA

HAITI
209th MP Co(-) (CSC), Ft Polk, LA

USMTM SAUDI ARABIA
463d MP Co(-) (CSC), Ft Leonard Wood, MO

DESERT SPRING KUWAIT
*179th MP MWD Tm, Ft Stewart, GA

EAST TIMOR
Ft Shafter MP Co(-), Ft Shafter, HI

 

JOINT FORGE (NG/FORSCOM)

984th MP Co (CSC), Ft Carson, CO
64th MP Co (CSC), Ft Hood, TX
*178th MP MWD Tm, Ft Hood, TX
*178th MP MWD Tm,
  Ft Campbell, KY
523d MP Det, Ft Riley, KS
*42d MP Det, Ft Bragg, NC
*51st MP Det, Ft Lewis, WA
*51st MP Det, Ft Lewis, WA
*NTC MP Co, Ft Irwin, CA
*163d MP Det, Ft Campbell, KY
*163d MP Det, Ft Campbell, KY
94th MP Co (CSC),
  Manchester, NH
119th MP Co (CSC), Warwick, RI
Bosnia
Hungary
Hungary

Bosnia
Bosnia
Bosnia
Bosnia
Bosnia
Bosnia
Bosnia
Bosnia

Bosnia
Bosnia
503d MP Bn (HHD), Ft Bragg, NC
108th MP Co (CSC), Ft Bragg, NC
755th MP Co (CSC), Arecibo, PR
530th MP Bn (EPW/CI), Omaha, NE
501st MP Co(-)(CSC),
Bad Kreuchnach, GE
272d MP Co(-)(CSC),
Mannheim, GE
529th MP Co(-)(CSC),
Heidelburg, GE
104th ASG Kennel Master, GE
9 MWD Tms, GE
202d CID
6th MP Group (CID)
315th CASE (CID)
Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo

Kosovo

Kosovo

Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo



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