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716th Military Police Battalion

The 716th Military Police Battalion mission is to deploy worldwide in support of US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) or XVIII Corps (Airborne) to provide combat military police support during war or contingency operations as required. It also provides law enforcement, community assistance and force protection to the soldiers, families, and visitors to Fort Campbell, Kentucky; maintains liaison with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies; and supports installation contingency operations.

The 716th Military Police Battalion was first constituted on 10 January 1942 in the Army of the United States as the 716th Military Police Battalion. It was activated out of wartime necessity on 15 January 1942 at Fort Wadsworth, New York. The Battalion formed as part of the Zone of the Interior and served primarily in and around New York City for the duration of the Second World War. Given the lack of military police in the early days of the Second World War, the Battalion received its initial fill of soldiers from coastal artillery and infantry units. In fact, the Battalion's first commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles F. Stanton, was a Field Artillery officer who had served in the 27th Infantry Division prior to his assignment to the 716th Military Police Battalion.

Within a month of activation, the Battalion began conducting Area Security Operations out of Jersey City, New Jersey. Although not deployed overseas, the Battalion's mission was critical given the importance of New York City and surrounding communities as a transportation hub for the shipment of troops and equipment to the North African and European theaters of operations. Additionally, there was a very real threat of sabotage against these resources and facilities by German agents. Specific missions the Battalion conducted included the security of war stockpiles and railroad yards, security of the Newark, New Jersey airport, port security for troop ships in the North River, and security of Fort Jay on Governor's Island.

The spring of 1943 saw the Battalion's primary mission change from Area Security to Internment and Resettlement Operations for enemy prisoners of war from the North African Theater. The Battalion escorted enemy prisoners of war from points of arrival in Eastview and Peekskill, New York to internment facilities throughout the United States. In the summer of 1943, the Battalion deployed elements to North Africa with the responsibility of escorting enemy prisoners of war from North Africa to the United States.

In addition to the missions of Area Security and Internment and Resettlement, the Battalion conducted numerous other missions during the Second World War. The Battalion performed funeral details for war dead and honor guards for visiting dignitaries. In 1943, the Battalion guarded the "Weapons of War" exhibit in Central Park and assisted in the distribution of Christmas mail to military personnel stationed in New York. Lastly, the Battalion conducted general military police duties throughout the New York City area until the end of the war.

In 1946, the Battalion relocated to Fort Dix, New Jersey. From the end of the Second World War through the 1950's, the Battalion performed a variety of security, law enforcement, and training missions throughout New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Specific missions included security of the Naval Ammunition Depot at Earls, New Jersey, providing the honor guard for President Truman during the dedication of the United Nation's building in 1949, and the training of personnel prior to assignment to other units in First Army's area of responsibility. The Battalion was allotted on 27 October 1950 to the Regular Army. In November 1956, the Battalion processed 22,000 Hungarian refugees at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey as part of Operation Mercy. These refugees had fled their homeland when the Soviet Union invaded to put an end to a pro-democracy movement there.

The turbulent 1960's saw the 716th Military Police Battalion conducting operations at both ends of the spectrum of conflict. In September 1962, a federal court granted James Meredith, an African American, enrollment at the University of Mississippi. Attempts by federal law enforcement officers to enforce this court order resulted in rioting, thus forcing President Kennedy to dispatch troops. The 716th Military Police Battalion deployed to Oxford, Mississippi as part of a 12,000 soldier force comprised of active component and federalized National Guard soldiers. The Battalion assisted in regaining order and enforcing federal law until the operation ended in 1963. Within 2 years of the end of this operation the Battalion would be alerted to deploy to the Republic of Vietnam.

By late March 1965, the 716th Military Police Battalion was on the ground in the Republic of Vietnam. Initially, the Battalion provided military police support to 4 separate corps areas spanning the entire country. As additional Military Police units arrived, the Battalion's area of responsibility changed until eventually the Battalion was responsible for the metropolitan areas of Saigon and Cholon. Law enforcement missions conducted by the Battalion included traffic operations, personal security details, anti-black marketing operations in conjunction with host nation police, and maintenance of law and order for US military personnel. Additionally, the Battalion conducted both static and mobile security patrols to prevent and respond to Viet Cong terrorist attacks against US facilities and personnel. These attacks included drive by shootings of US service members and bombings of facilities such as the US Embassy, Metropole Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) and Brinks Bachelor Officer Quarters (BOQ) in 1965, and the Victoria BOQ in April 1966.

The Battalion's most important contribution to the US war effort, and indeed, to the history of the Military Police Corps, was its courageous defense of Saigon during the 1968 Tet Offensive. The Tet offensive, which began in the early morning hours of 31 January 1968, was an all out communist attack throughout the whole of Vietnam. The North Vietnamese violated the Tet holiday cease-fire in order to gain surprise against US and South Vietnamese forces. Although US intelligence anticipated the cease-fire would be violated, no one expected an all out attack within the city of Saigon.

In Saigon, the status of forces agreement precluded the presence of US combat arms forces. Consequently, the 716th Military Police Battalion and attached elements, to include the 527th Military Police Company; C Company, 52nd Infantry; and the 90th Military Police Detachment, were the only organized US forces within the city. They were on alert and expected isolated terrorists attacks. Instead, they would face some 4,000 Viet Cong guerillas, many of who had infiltrated Saigon during holiday festivities and were nearly indistinguishable from the local populace. In the early morning hours of 31 January 1968, these forces attacked facilities throughout Saigon almost simultaneously.

The most famous action during the Tet offensive occurred at the US Embassy, where Specialist Charles Daniel and Private First Class William Sebast of the 527th Military Police Company were augmenting the US Marine Security Detail. At 0247 hours, Viet Cong sappers blew a hole in the embassy compound's perimeter wall and attacked through the breach. Specialist Daniel and Private First Class Sebast radioed for help and engaged the attacking Viet Cong. They were able to kill the first 2 attacking sappers before being shot down. Two military policemen who responded to the calls for help, Sergeant Jonnie Thomas and Specialist Owen Mebust, were ambushed and killed as they approached the embassy compound.

The actions of these military police soldiers bought enough time for the Marine guards to seal the doors to the embassy building. The Viet Cong attempted to blow the doors off the embassy building with rockets, but failed. Consequently, the Viet Cong were never able to enter the embassy building. As both military police and Marine reaction forces responded to the embassy, a stalemate ensued. Military Police surrounded the compound and exchanged fire with the guerillas on the grounds, but could not enter the compound due to the volume of fire and uncertainty as to the enemy's disposition. The Viet Cong could not enter the embassy building and could not exit the compound. Additionally, an infantry reaction force that attempted to land by helicopter on the roof of the embassy was repulsed by enemy fire.

At dawn, the order was given to retake the compound. Military police rammed the embassy's main gate and stormed the compound led by Private First Class Paul Healy of B Company, 716th Military Police Battalion. When the embassy was resecured, 19 dead Viet Cong were found and one was captured. Four Military police and one Marine were killed in the defense of the embassy.

A less well known, but much more costly engagement for the soldiers of the Battalion occurred as military police responded to the reports of an attack at BOQ Number 3. A company-sized element of Viet Cong was involved in an attack on the nearby Joint General Staff Compound. As the Military Police reaction force attempted to reach BOQ Number 3, they were ambushed by overwhelming firepower as they proceeded down a narrow alley. Additional Military Police reaction forces, insufficiently armed for combat operations, lacked the firepower to evacuate the dead and wounded from the alley until armored vehicles could be obtained. The area was not resecured until US armored forces were brought to bear some 16 hours after the fighting began.

Although trained as police and insufficiently armed for combat operations, soldiers of the Battalion met the enemy in 10 major and countless smaller engagements at a cost of 27 military police killed and 44 wounded. Due to the absence of combat arms forces in Saigon, the 716th Military Police Battalion's responses to these Viet Cong attacks were responsible for defeating the assaults outright or delaying the enemy long enough for combat arms forces to arrive. In the end, not one of the 130 facilities the Battalion was responsible for fell into enemy hands. For the actions of its soldiers during the Tet Offensive, President Nixon awarded the Battalion the Presidential Unit Citation.

The Battalion continued to serve in the Republic of Vietnam after the Tet Offensive conducting law enforcement and area security operations in the Saigon area, as well as responding to bombings and rocket attacks within the city. On 29 March 1973, the Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 716th Military Police Battalion and Companies A, B, and C were concurrently inactivated in Vietnam. On 2 April 1973, the 508th Military Police Battalion at Fort Riley, Kansas was reflagged as the 716th Military Police Battalion with attached elements to include the 1st, 207th, 890th, and 977th Military Police Companies.

While at Fort Riley, the Battalion continued its tradition of support to the Army in both wartime operations and operations other than war. Elements of the Battalion conducted operations in support of Cuban refugees at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin and Fort Chaffee, Arkansas in 1980-81. The Battalion conducted civil disturbance control operations at Seneca Army Depot in 1983 and at the Rock Island Arsenal in 1984. In 1985, the 1st Military Police Company deployed to Grenada to maintain a US presence following Operation Urgent Fury and to advise Grenada's police force. Additionally, in November 1988, the Battalion headquarters and the 977th Military Police Company deployed to the Republic of Panama to conduct law enforcement operations for US installations along the Panama Canal.

In January 1990, elements of the Battalion participated in a joint task force responsible for the evacuation of US personnel from Somalia. From October 1990 to June 1991, the Battalion deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of the 89th Military Police Brigade in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The Battalion conducted both area security and maneuver and mobility support operations during the deployment to include port and airbase security, convoy security, and circulation control and security of main supply routes. Between 1994 and 1995, the Battalion deployed to Guantanimo Bay, Cuba, to help again with Cuban refugees.

In June 1996, the Battalion relocated to Fort Campbell, Kentucky where it replaced the Fort Campbell Law Enforcement Command. Units initially attached to the Battalion were the 101st Military Police Company (Air Assault), the 194th Military Police Company, and the Fort Campbell Military Police Company. With the redesignation of the Fort Campbell Military Police Company as the deployable 163rd Military Police Detachment in June 1998, the activation of the 551st Military Police Company in October 1998, and the attachment of Fort Campbell's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, United States Army Garrison, the Battalion's ability to assist, protect, and defend in both peace and war was significantly enhanced.

The 716th Military Police Battalion accomplished much during its 6-month tour of duty in Kosovo. The Battalion completed more than 4,000 missions over the course of the deployment, received more than 1,600 weapons and destroyed 1,100, processed and detained more than 850 detainees. While the Battalion was in Kosovo it was comprised of several units including: the 21st Military Police Company (Airborne) from Fort Bragg, North Carolina; the 340th Military Police Company, US Army Reserve, from Queens, New York; Detachment 5, 391st Military Police Battalion from Columbus, Ohio; and the 551st Military Police Company from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The Battalion has deployed individuals and K-9 teams continuously to support operations in Southwest Asia, Haiti, Bosnia, and throughout the United States. The Battalion also deployed the 194th Military Police Company to Egypt as the security element for Exercise Bright Star 97, and to Germany in the summer of 1999 in support of Exercise Vigilant Enforcement.

The 101st Military Police Company (Air Assault) provided support to Fort Campbell's maneuver brigades to include deploying a platoon to the Sinai in support of the Multinational Force and Observers mission and deploying a squad to Kosovo. Additionally, the 716th Military Police Battalion worked hand in hand with Fort Campbell's Public Safety Business Center to provide continuous force protection and community assistance operations for the soldiers, civilians, and family members of the Fort Campbell community.

In September of 1999, members of the Battalion traveled to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for the dedication of 2 new facilities supporting the new Military Police School. The Sergeant Michael A. Grieve Complex, a billeting facility for military police students, was named for Sergeant Michael Grieve of A Company, 716th Military Police Battalion. Specialist Daniel's Hall, part of the new military police training facilities, was named in honor of Specialist Charles L. Daniel of C Company, 716th Military Police Battalion. Both soldiers gave their lives and were awarded posthumously for gallantry for their actions during the 1968 Tet Offensive in Saigon.

On 4 November 2001, Task Force 716th Military Police from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, gave way to Task Force 504th Military Police out of Fort Lewis, Washington, during a Task Force Falcon Military Police transfer of authority ceremony. Each task force consisted of both active component and reserve component elements, so having a year to prepare for this allowed them to bring all the units together as a team and train on a number of occasions. The Military Police trained to do peacetime, wartime and these types of contingency operations. The military police mission was exactly suited for what happened in Kosovo, to include law enforcement operations, maneuverability support operations, keeping the lines of communication on the roads open, doing checkpoints, cordon and searches, interpersonal communication skills meeting with the local people.

By 2004, the 716th Military Police Battalion continued to serve at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The Battalion provided daily law enforcement support to Fort Campbell and was continuously prepared to deploy as directed by XVIII Airborne Corps and FORSCOM. Prior to the transformation of the 101st Airborne Division to the US Army's modular force structure, beginning in 2004, the Battalion had been under the administrative control of the Division. With the transformation of the Division, it was placed under the administrative control of the 101st Sustainment Brigade. The unit was technically subordinate to the 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne), XVIII Corps (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:31:24 ZULU