Find a Security Clearance Job!



The Provost Marshal's Law and Order Purview

The provost marshal (PM) for each command is that command's advisor on MP combat, combat support, and combat service support operations.

In a theater of operations and in tactical units the senior MP officer at each echelon is the commander's advisor for MP operations. He is a member of the command's special staff. For example, the theater army PM is the theater's senior MP. He is responsible for staff supervision of MP matters at theater army level. In theater army area commands (TAACOMs) and corps, the MP brigade commanders are their commands' PM. As PMs they serve on their commanders' special staff as planners for MP operations. At division level the senior MP officer is the division PM.

On military installations outside a theater of operations the installation PM is the installation commander's advisor for MP law and order operations. As the chief law enforcement officer on the installation the PM provides the installation commander with professional and technical advice concerning law and order objectives, policies, and directives.

The installation PM--

  • Advises the commander and staff about MP abilities.
  • Prepares plans and policies.
  • Directs and reviews MP operations.
  • Maintains liaison with United States Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC) support elements.
  • Assists and supervises interaction of supporting and supported units.
  • Coordinates with civilian law enforcement agencies, allied forces, and host nation (HN) military and civil police.
  • Provides staff supervision for the installation confinement facility.




Military Police Company

Operations Section

Administrative Section

Physical Secruity/Crime Prevention Section

Absentee/Deserter Apprehension Section

Juvenile Section

Installation Confinement Facility

Military Police Investigation Section

Patrol Section

Game Warden

Traffic Section

Military Working Dog Section

Special Reaction Team

If an Office of Command Provost Marshal is established, the command PM would, in addition to the above, be responsible for command and control of operations to include administration, logistics, training, and administering of military justice for all assigned and attached MP units in the command.

On installations the commander determines the degree of law and order needed to support order and discipline. The PM advises the commander on the means and methods needed to achieve the commander's needs. The PM implements the commander's law and order policies and plans. The PM ensures MP plans and operations supporting the commander's plan are carried out. The PM recommends when and where to concentrate the command's MP assets. The PM supervises MP support on the installation or within the command's area of operation. The PM coordinates matters of MP concern on a daily basis.

The PM keeps the commander advised on MP operations. The PM ensures that MP provide protection and assistance to the military community. The PM ensures MP enforce laws with objectivity. And the PM sets the example in community relations that reflect and enhance the MP image.

The PM establishes command and control procedures to effectively manage MP resources and provide law enforcement when and where needed. The PM's management and contingency planning are the key elements to ensuring effective law and order operations.

Planning MP support is a continuous process at every echelon. In the absence of specific directions or orders, the PM plans the use of MP assets. The PM evaluates current operations and projects future courses of action. The PM bases his plans on assumptions consistent with sound judgment and a thorough knowledge of the situation and mission.

The PM ensures MP planning is practical and flexible. The PM ensures that plans are coordinated with staff sections and subordinate commands. And the PM ensures plans reflect manpower and resources needed by MP. (This includes needs for command and control, fire support, equipment, and supplies. It also includes construction, communication, transportation, and aviation support.) As new information is received, the PM reviews, updates, and modifies plans. The PM ensures that the commanders get the MP support they need.

The PM ensures that MP show mutual respect and maintain a professional, working relationship when working with local civilian police. Civilian police are normally led and directed by persons with many years of experience in dealing with people and law enforcement. In coordination with the local civilian police executive, the PM establishes policies to guide MP when dealing with civilian police. For example, sometimes direct telephone lines for liaison are established between an MP station and a civil police station. Arrangements may be made for the use of the civil police radios and their telephone call box facilities. But use ordinarily is limited to emergencies or special situations, and care is taken not to overload the civil police networks. (Requests for this type of service are coordinated with the local communications-electronics officer or civil affairs officer.) MP must be familiar with the civilian police department's manual of procedures.

When MP are assigned to work directly with foreign national police, their actions are governed by the prevailing status of forces agreements. The PM ensures that MP maintain a professional attitude and that they are not critical of how other nations do things.

Large installations may have a deputy provost marshal (DPM). The DPM may aid the PM by supervising general MP activities and services. The DPM may manage physical security, crime prevention, and investigations for the PM office. Often a DPM makes work assignments and reviews work for compliance with policies, standards, and regulations. The DPM may review and improve work methods, organizational structure, and position assignment to achieve optimum efficiency. The DPM may manage the civilians assigned to the PM office. The DPM can assist subordinate supervisors in meeting civilian personnel requirements. The DPM can ensure issues like merit promotion, performance appraisals, equal employment opportunity, labor-management. The DPM often counsels civilians, career development, and relations are addressed. writes job descriptions, and communicates with the civilian personnel office to obtain further guidance on managing civilian personnel. The DPM may also manage civil law enforcement operations, commercial activities programs, and reserve component support for the PM office.


The primary focus of MP law and order operations on a military installation is the MP station. MP station personnel implement the PM's plans and operations.

MP stations are the center of activity for all MP functions, especially law enforcement. A station should be located as near as possible to a point that provides effective direction and centralized control of all MP operational elements. Wherever possible, existing facilities are used for the MP station. But consideration is given to the mission, available transportation route, communications facilities, and proximity to troops or facilities. Commanders may establish MP stations in any area where the incident rate or offense experience indicates a need for a permanent MP presence.

The MP station operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide law enforcement assistance and information whenever needed. The general public invariably turns to the MP for assistance and information. When dealing with the public, MP must be able to provide the correct information needed. And they must be courteous when providing assistance and information. MP posts and patrols often have available maps of the post or city to provide the public. MP must know where hospitals, fire departments, and neighboring police agencies are located. MP are careful not to provide restricted police information or classified military information to unauthorized persons. But when information or assistance by the public is requested, MP determine exactly what is wanted. Then they give a clear and concise answer. If MP do not have an answer, every effort is made to obtain the answer. Or the person is referred to an appropriate agency to obtain assistance. The PM provides information to information centers. This information is similar to that available from the MP station. Information centers may be located in transportation centers, centers of troop concentrations, main traffic routes, or gates of military installations.

The MP station may also operate any number of substations depending on distance, volume of activity, or mission requirements. MP functions center around patrol operations, traffic control, absentee/deserter return to military control, apprehension/detention of offenders, and control and accountability of evidence. (See Appendix A for more information on MP stations.)


In a theater of operations PM functions are under a table of organization and equipment (TOE) (IAW AR 310-31). On installations PM functions are organized under a table of distribution and allowances (TDA) (IAW AR 5-3). A TDA may contain civilian and military positions, whereas a TOE contains only military positions. And a TDA organization can be tailored to suit the needs of a particular MP organization. A TDA organization can be used outside the continental US (OCONUS) as well as in the continental US.


The MP company provides command management, administrative support, and logistics for assigned military personnel. The MP company provides discipline, housekeeping, welfare activities, and food services. It also provides training (see Appendix B for information on MP firearms qualification).


All MP stations have an operations section. This section is the primary control point for all MP operations. The pivotal duty position of desk sergeant is part of the operations section. The desk sergeant is the key individual in this hub of operations. He receives and records complaints. He provides quick response to calls for assistance where crimes have been committed. He ensures traffic is controlled and that traffic accidents are investigated. He informs the PM of serious incidents that deal with personnel, installation security, threats to military operations, and so forth. He processes, detains, feeds, and prepares disposition of offenders. And he maintains continual observation of confinement facilities when occupied. He receipts for and secures personal effects of offenders and prepares required reports. He maintains DA Form 3997 (Military Police Desk Blotter) and DA Form 1594 (Daily Staff Journal or Duty Officer's Log). And he prepares DD Form 460 (Provisional Pass). He obtains medical aid for an offender, complainant, or witness who is physically ill or who seems to be in shock, in a coma, or heavily intoxicated. The desk sergeant maintains communications with patrols, directs actions of patrols, and reviews patrol reports. And he furnishes information, as authorized, to military personnel and the public. He keeps the duty officer informed of pertinent matters and dispatches reserves in the absence of the duty officer. The desk sergeant maintains a lost and found property service, or coordinates this service with the adjutant section, as directed by local regulations. Also in the operations section is the radio operator who operates the communications net control station. Some station operations sections have subelements for administration, communications, and records and reports.

The operations section ensures all law enforcement and investigative activities are implemented, coordinated, and controlled as directed by the PM. This section ensures that police liaison and public relations activities are established and maintained with the military and civilian communities served. The operations section provides support to all installation contingency plans. It plans for the use of resources and provides operational control of the special reaction team (SRT). The operations section maintains control of all MP investigations, criminal intelligence data collection, and physical security operations. The operations section ensures all traffic operations are coordinated, planned, and directed in coordination with the traffic section. Entry and exit of the installation is controlled by the operations section. The operations section dispatches patrols, maintains communications with patrols, establishes traffic control points, and mans these points, as required.

The operations section establishes patrol areas, policies, and responsibilities for MP personnel while on duty. Personnel requirements and employment of the supporting MP company are determined in coordination with the supporting unit. The daily required distribution of personnel is determined the operations section. The number of personnel by grade, job assignment, and required skill is given to the MP unit commander as soon as the requirement is known.

The operations section determines MP training requirements and recommends them to the MP unit commander. The operations section serves as an evaluation center for MP personnel to determine additional training and equipment requirements. These requirements are furnished to the supporting MP company. Job site training is coordinated between the PM and unit commander to facilitate continuous development of technical skills of assigned personnel. Inexperienced personnel are paired with experienced personnel. Duty assignments must be appropriate to grades. If personnel are not qualified for assignments in accordance with their grades, training must be initiated to correct the deficiencies before individuals perform such duties.

In some stations other sections, like MP investigation, absentee/deserter apprehension, protective services (when authorized), juvenile, military working dog (MWD), and wildlife conservation enforcement, may be organized to operate independently of the operations section, but they maintain close coordination.


The administrative section performs all administrative functions for the PM office. This section maintains administrative liaison with other staff sections and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). It maintains files and safeguards classified documents. It controls correspondence, records, and forms. This section plans and conducts research to include multiyear planning and budget and manpower projections; it is responsible for implementing the automated Offense Reporting System (ORS) and the Vehicle Registration System (VRS). (See DA Pam 5-3 for information on work method techniques.)

The administrative section prepares serious incident reports (SIRs) for the PM. Serious incidents are communicated through the chain of command to ensure commanders are knowledgeable of such events. SIRs will be processed in accordance with Army Regulation (AR) 190-40 and AR 27-50.

The PM ensures that the commander is notified when such incidents occur. Procedures for notifying the chain of command of incidents and their seriousness are usually set by the installation commander. Often this is done during his inbriefing with the PM. The PM ensures the intent of the commander's directives are reflected in the standing operating procedure (SOP). The SOP outlines the notification procedures to be used by the desk sergeant and MP duty officer (MPDO). The PM ensures that information is factual and passed on in its entirety. The SOP provides the immediacy in which the installation commander will be notified. Generally, the commander is given the facts of the case verbally as soon as possible. The commander is given a copy of the military police report (MPR) which contains all information relevant to the SIR.


The physical security/crime prevention section oversees the installation's physical security and crime prevention programs. The section coordinates policies and procedures for these programs. It ensures that the programs are administered and maintained. The personnel in this section help unit commanders and staff sections formulate and administer security plans and procedures and crime prevention programs.

MP in the crime prevention section support the commander in his responsibility for ensuring the welfare of members of the command. They oversee the development of the Army crime prevention program. The objective of this program is to reduce criminal activity and improve the readiness posture of all commands. By suppressing the opportunity for criminal behavior, MP help the commander maintain a fighting force in a state of high morale and discipline.

Physical security personnel establish and maintain a current priority listing approved by the commander of critical activities and facilities within the command. They provide input to the PM and the command staff on budgeting, inspection results, and the installation physical security plan.

Specific responsibilities of the physical security section include--

  • Developing and updating installation physical security plan.
  • Reviewing physical security SOP.
  • Reviewing work orders to ensure compliance with physical security requirements.
  • Performing technical assistance visits.
  • Conducting physical security classes.
  • Establishing and monitoring intrusion alarm procedures.
  • Providing members for installation command inspection team.

Installation physical security programs are tailored to the local threat. Security requirements are determined by the installation PM; USACIDC field offices; military intelligence units, agencies, and activities; local civilian law enforcement agencies; annual DA physical security threat statement; and operations security (OPSEC) evaluations and surveys. The installation physical security program is described in a comprehensive physical security plan. This plan addresses specific detection, assessment, response, delay, and communications measures taken to safeguard personnel, materiel, and equipment. These include lock and key control; protective barriers, lighting, and sensors; MP patrols, vehicle checks, and searches; community relations programs; and neighborhood crime watch.

Physical security surveys and inspections, crime prevention surveys, and personal security assessments for high-risk personnel identify existing or potential conditions conducive to criminal or terrorist activity. Specific guidance for conducting physical security surveys is contained in AR 190-13.

Specific questions used by the person conducting an inspection are developed from regulatory procedures governing the operation of the activity or facility being examined, pertinent internal security requirements, and experience. See FM 19-20, FM 19-30, and AR 190-13.


An absentee/deserter apprehension section is established if justified by AR 5-9 and the absentee/deserter program (see Chapter 6). Justification depends on caseload and geographic and demographic data. The PM resources the section based on historical caseloads and area of responsibility as designated in AR 5-9. The section may be organized with an officer in charge (OIC)/noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) and one or more two-man apprehension teams chosen in accordance with AR 190-9. If the caseload is small, this function may be performed as an additional duty by MP patrol personnel or the MP investigation section.

The absentee/deserter apprehension section conducts investigations of absent without leave (AWOL)/deserter personnel. The section compiles and distributes all documents pertinent to AWOL/deserter personnel. The status of individuals is verified through United States Army Deserter Information Point (USADIP), and all regulatory reporting requirements involving AWOL/deserter personnel are included when reports are processed. The absentee/deserter apprehension section aids apprehensions by distribution of AWOL/deserter material in person or by telephone. Coordination is maintained with civil law enforcement agencies to aid in AWOL or deserter personnel apprehension. The absentee/deserter apprehension section processes DD Form 629 (Receipt of Prisoner or Detained Person) in accordance with AR 190-45, processes transportation requests, and takes other administrative actions to transport AWOL or deserter personnel.

The team must first coordinate with the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) and then with civilian police before entering the civilian community to apprehend an absentee/deserter. The absentee/deserter apprehension team briefs the local civilian police on the team's specific mission. They brief the civilian police on the results of the team's mission before leaving the jurisdiction. If local civilian police apprehend an absentee or deserter, the team provides documents for obtaining the reward or reimbursement offered by the Army per AR 190-9.

The absentee/deserter apprehension team can request that civilian police accompany the team. If local civilian police cannot accompany the team, the absentee/deserter apprehension team requests advice and guidance from them. The absentee/deserter apprehension team must coordinate with the SJA when the local civilian police cannot accompany the team.

The absentee/deserter apprehension team is tactful and courteous when dealing with the civilian community. The team's professionalism must be evident. Friends, family, relatives, and local police are contacted for help in developing leads. An absentee/deserter apprehension team must keep in mind that their jurisdiction extends to the subject only. It does not extend to those who aid the subject or other civilians. The team will not pressure the family or friends of an absentee into furnishing information or assistance.

Techniques to be employed by absentee/deserter apprehension teams in making apprehensions must be clearly outlined in an SOP. The SOP must state what is to be done, how it is to be done, and why it is necessary. Team personnel must be familiar with these procedures. Further guidance can be obtained from AR 630-10 and AR 190-9.

The absentee/deserter apprehension section handles the administration of the program. The section handles the initial reporting requirements concerning absentees/deserters. The section processes absentees/deserters being returned to military control.

And the absentee/deserter apprehension section maintains the administrative working files. This includes individual case files in "active," "inactive," and "closed" categories, as well as a suspense file. Each case file includes documents received, leads developed, actions taken, and persons or agencies with whom coordination was made. Memorandums for record are used for most actions or information not shown on MP reports, statements, work sheets, or other documents.


PMs with significant juvenile problems can set up a separate juvenile section if resources are available. This section handles juvenile crime, delinquency, and misbehavior.

MP and MP investigators (MPIs) assigned to this section can be volunteers. The number of people assigned depends on availability of personnel, extent of the juvenile problem, and degree of command interest. PMs try to select MP or MPIs who have a counseling or social work background, or who have been involved in volunteer work with the young. Personnel assigned to this section deal with delinquent youths, make appropriate referrals to social agencies, and provide knowledgeable recommendations for disciplinary action and preventive measures.

By closely monitoring juvenile activities MP and USACIDC personnel can aid in establishing an effective delinquency prevention program, identifying potential problems, and solving juvenile offenses. Elements of a juvenile delinquency prevention program are--

  • Determining juvenile group hangout areas.
  • Making note of juvenile identities and activities.
  • Developing sources of information.
  • Determining current feelings of unrest or boredom.
  • Identifying group leaders.
  • Paying special attention to parking lots, schools, or vacant buildings as hangout areas or targets for delinquent acts.


The presence of an installation confinement facility and its personnel promotes law and order. It assists the commander in maintaining unit discipline and strength. It is an integral part of the military justice system. It provides limited counseling, administrative services, and custodial supervision for pretrial prisoners, short-term posttrial prisoners, casual prisoners, and posttrial prisoners awaiting transfer to a correctional facility.


The MP investigation section investigates disruptive incidents and suspected offenses for the PM. MPIs conduct those criminal investigations for which the PM is responsible. MPIs may also be called upon to provide personal security when needed for high-risk persons visiting or leaving the area. MPIs are selected in accord with AR 190-30 by the local commander responsible for law enforcement operations. The MPI supervisor is normally a company grade commissioned officer or a senior noncommissioned officer. MPIs are normally under the control of the operations officer.

MPIs wear the duty MP uniform, to include the appropriate components of distingushing MP equipment. However, local commanders may authorize MPIs to wear the military uniform devoid of distinguishing MP accessories, or civilian clothing when it is essential to the successful completion of a specific investigation. MPIs authorized to wear civilian clothing may request a civilian clothing allowance in accordance with AR 700-84. MPIs are armed with either the .45-caliber pistol, the 9-mm pistol, or the .38-caliber revolver, depending upon equipment authorizations and local directives.

Individuals selected to become MPIs must complete formal training. One formal course is the MPI course conducted at the United States Army Military Police School, Fort McClellan, Alabama. Formal training also can be received through an MPI course established by a major command authorized to award an additional skill identifier. Individuals may receive OJT in conjunction with formal training.

Upon receipt of a favorable written response from the US Army Crime Records Center (USACRC) and completion of formal training, the individual can be awarded the additional skill identifier V5 and be issued MPI credentials. Credentials are issued to MPIs by the local PM or a designated MP unit commander. DA Forms 3837 and 3837-1 (Military Police Investigator Credentials) are the only authorized credentials for MPIs. Credentials are serially numbered, containing the name, description, date of birth, color photograph, and signature of the MPI to whom they are issued. The credentials are authenticated by the PM and are issued for a period not to exceed 24 months.

To ensure positive controls are used for the issuance and accountability of MPI credentials, the PM ensures the following actions, as a minimum, are taken:

  • Appointment on orders of a commissioned officer as credential control officer and a commissioned officer as alternate credential control officer.
  • Establishment of a credential control log.
  • Establishment of controls over unissued credentials and the establishment of adequate inspection procedures.
  • Development of procedures for the temporary and permanent withdrawal of credentials.

Once credentials are issued to an investigator, he becomes responsible for keeping them in a safe place. If credentials are lost, the investigator reports this loss immediately to his supervisor.


The patrol section responds to incidents received by the MP desk or observed by the MP. MP patrols report and investigate all suspicious activities, apprehend persons who have or are in the process of committing an offense, and ensure the security of the military installation. The primary objective of MP patrols is to protect, assist, and provide high visibility of MP in areas subject to criminal activity. MP patrols--

  • Ensure physical security of military installations, personnel, property, and equipment.
  • Secure crime scene.
  • Enforce laws, orders, and directives on military installations or areas under military control.
  • Provide information and assistance to members of the military community and the general public.
  • Control the flow of military and civilian traffic subject to their jurisdiction.
  • Control crowds of military and civilian personnel subject to their jurisdiction.


MP actively support the conservation of installation wildlife. The MP support of the Army's wildlife conservation is managed by the installation game warden.

The game warden is often times organized under the patrol section. The game warden's duties are set by the PM to meet the wildlife conservation laws and needs of the local area. MP game wardens are the liaison between the military installation and the federal fish and wildlife service, state fish and game agency, and local law enforcement agencies for fish and game control. (See AR 420-74 and DA Pamphlet 420-7.)


The traffic section provides accident reporting and investigation services for motor vehicle accidents. This section coordinates with the Directorate of Engineering and Housing and the Safety Office concerning traffic patterns and flow. (See FM 19-25.)


The MWD section manages and operates MWD facilities. It provides advice on MWD matters. It trains and maintains proficiency of MWD teams to support MP and other agencies. It maintains the health and welfare of MWDs. And it maintains kennels, related facilities, and equipment. (See FM 19-35.)


The SRT, through intensive training in combat in built-up areas, marksmanship, rappelling, physical training, first aid, and the use of specialized equipment, is designed to neutralize or apprehend a barricaded offender with a minimum of danger to hostages, team members, other MP, and others. All team members receive crosstraining in the specialized duties of other members. For additional information see Chapter 21.

Join the mailing list

Unconventional Threat podcast - Threats Foreign and Domestic: 'In Episode One of Unconventional Threat, we identify and examine a range of threats, both foreign and domestic, that are endangering the integrity of our democracy'