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Chapter 1


The MP Corps has a strong history evolving over the past five decades. We, as a corps, continue to transform our organizations and doctrine as we have in the past to support the Army in the active defense of the 1970s, the AirLand battle of the 1980s, and now the force-projection doctrine of the 1990s. Our five MP functions clearly articulate the diverse role the MP play across the full spectrum of military operations. We cannot bask in our successes, nor reflect or celebrate. Our charter is to continue our legacy of stellar performance and strive to perfect it.
BG Donald J. Ryder
When the Army developed the Active Defense strategy in 1976, the US was facing the Cold War scenario of central Europe. Military strategy and doctrine were related to a single, focused threat that revolved around the countries in the Warsaw Pact. We were an outnumbered and technically inferior force facing an armor-dominated European battlefield. The MP Corps supported the Active Defense strategy by tailoring its forces to meet the threat. In 1982, when the AirLand Battle strategy was developed, US forces were still outnumbered, but were no longer technically inferior. Still threat-based and focused on a central European conflict, the AirLand Battle strategy used a relatively fixed framework suited to the echeloned attack of soviet-style forces. It delineated and clarified the levels of war; emphasized closed, concerted operations of airpower and ground forces; balanced the offense and the defense; and highlighted the synchronization of close, deep, and rear operations. MP doctrine kept pace with the Army's AirLand Battle strategy by supporting the battlefield commander through four basic missions-battlefield circulation and control, area security (AS), enemy prisoner of war (EPW), and law and order (L&O).


1-1. In October 1983, MP capabilities in the AirLand Battle strategy were tested during operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. The MP performed missions that ranged from assisting the infantry in building-clearance operations to assisting Caribbean peacekeeping forces in restoring L&O. These actions secured our place in the combat support (CS) role, demonstrating the professional knowledge and flexibility necessary for rapid transition from combat to CS to peacetime missions. The changing battlefield conditions of operation Urgent Fury set the stage for the demand of MP units today.

1-2. Evolving simultaneously with the changing definition of the modern battlefield, MP performance in Operations Hawkeye, Just Cause, and Desert Shield/Storm galvanized their ability to perform at any point along the operational continuum. With the publication of FM 100-5 in 1993, the Army adopted the doctrine of full-dimensional operations, relying on the art of battle command to apply those principles and to shift the focus from AirLand Battle to force-projection doctrine. This new doctrine was based on recent combat experience in a multipolar world with new technological advances. Already trained and expected to perform in this new strategy, MP support was already in place and fully operational. The MP continued to perform their basic battlefield missions and to refine their capabilities while supporting the battlefield commander as he deployed to contingency operations throughout the world.

1-3. In 1996, the MP Corps went through a doctrinal review process to determine if it was properly articulating its multiple performance capabilities in support of US forces deployed worldwide (see Appendix B). The review process identified the need to restructure and expand the EPW mission to include handling US military prisoners and all dislocated civilians. This new emphasis transformed the EPW mission into the internment and resettlement (I/R) function. The review process also identified the need to shift from missions to functions. In the past, the four battlefield missions adequately described MP capabilities in a mature theater against a predictable, echeloned threat. However, that landscape is no longer valid. Accordingly, the four MP battlefield missions have become the following five MP functions:

  • Maneuver and mobility support (MMS).
  • AS.
  • L&O.
  • I/R.
  • Police intelligence operations (PIO).

1-4. These new MP functions are shaped by the following factors:

  • The application of stability and support operations where the integration of joint, multinational, and interagency capabilities are common occurrence.
  • The lack of traditional linear battlefields, requiring theater commanders in chief (CINCs) to request forces that meet a specific function to accomplish operational requirements.
  • The impact of asymmetric threats (such as drug traffickers and terrorist factions) and the effects of man-made and natural disasters.
  • The impact of advances in information and communication technologies and specifically in understanding the increased vulnerabilities presented by these technologies.

1-5. Articulating MP capabilities along functional lines benefits the MP and the Army echelon commander as well as the combatant commander. Since there is a multinational, interagency, and sister-service overlap of security services, the importance of including MP leaders and staffs early in the operational planning process cannot be overemphasized. This means before units are designated, before unit boundaries are drawn, and before unit missions are assigned. Early involvement ensures the proper development of common security responsibilities, communication and connectivity, liaisons, processes, and the rules of interaction between all forces. The ultimate goal should be the optimal, phased employment of MP forces in support of a commander's operational plan. MP functions not only reflect and capture current capabilities, they define the MP Corps in the twenty-first century.

1-6. As the Army reshapes and focuses its resources on transformation, Force XXI, and other redesign efforts, the MP Corps stands proud and ready to support this progress and reiterate their commitment to assist, protect, and defend.


1-7. The operational framework consists of the arrangement of friendly forces and resources in time, space, and purpose with respect to each other, the enemy, or the situation (see Figure 1-1).

Figure 1-1. Operational Framework

The operational framework for Army forces (ARFOR) rests within the combatant commander's theater organization. Each combatant commander has an assigned geographical area of responsibility (AOR), also called a theater, within which he has the authority to plan and conduct operations. Within the theater, joint force commanders at all levels may establish subordinate operational areas such as areas of operation (AOs), joint operations areas (JOAs) and joint rear areas (JRAs). The JRAs facilitate the protection and operation of bases, installations, and forces that support combat operations. When warranted, combatant commanders may designate theaters of war, theaters of operations (TOs), combat zones (CZs), and communications zones (COMMZs).

1-8. A theater of war is that area of air, land, or water that is, or may become, directly involved in the conduct of the war. A theater of war may contain more than one TO. It does not normally encompass the geographic combatant commander's entire AOR. A TO is a subarea (defined by a geographic combatant commander) within a theater of war in which specific combat operations are conducted or supported.

1-9. A CZ is the area required by combat forces for conducting operations. It normally extends forward from the land force's rear boundary. The COMMZ is the rear part of the TO (behind but contiguous to the CZ) that contains the lines of communications (LOC) and provides supply and evacuation support. Other agencies required for the immediate support and maintenance of field forces may also be located in the COMMZ. The COMMZ spans back to the continental US (CONUS) base, to a supporting combatant commander's AOR, or both.

1-10. An AO is an operational area defined by the joint force commander for land and naval forces. An AO does not typically encompass the entire operational area of the joint force command (JFC), but it should be large enough for component commanders to accomplish their mission and protect their forces. Army commanders use control measures to describe AOs and to design them to fit the situation and take advantage of the joint force's capabilities. Commanders typically subdivide the assigned AO by assigning subordinate-unit areas. These subordinate-unit areas may be contiguous or noncontiguous (see Figure 1-2).

Figure 1-2. Contiguous and Noncontiguous AOs

When friendly forces are contiguous, a boundary separates them. When friendly forces are noncontiguous, the concept of operations links the force's elements, but the AOs do not share a boundary. The intervening area between noncontiguous AOs remains the responsibility of the higher headquarters.


1-11. Battlefield organization is the arrangement of forces according to purpose, time, and space to accomplish a mission. Battlefield organization has both a purpose- and spatial-based framework. The purpose-based framework centers on decisive, shaping, and sustaining (DSS) operations. Purpose unifies all elements of the battlefield organization by providing the common focus for all actions. However, forces act in time and space to accomplish a purpose. The spatial-based framework includes close, deep, and rear areas. Despite the increasing nonlinear nature of operations, there may be situations where commanders describe DSS operations in spatial terms. Typically, linear operations involve conventional combat and concentrated maneuver forces. Ground forces share boundaries and orient against a similarly organized enemy force. In such situations, commanders direct and focus simultaneous DSS operations in deep, close, and rear areas, respectively (see FM 3-0).

1-12. MP battlefield organization supports every Army echelon, from the Army service component command (ASCC) and the theater support command (TSC) to the maneuver brigade. Regardless of the battlefield organization (purpose or spatial based), MP support to the Army commander is based on available resources and mission, enemy, terrain, troops, time available, and civilian considerations (METT-TC).

1-13. MP support throughout the theater of war may include MP units in the JOA and in the TO. If the combatant commander designates a COMMZ and a CZ within his TO, MP support will come from the established MP modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE) at the subordinate command echelon. MP support to the JOA is also provided based on METT-TC and available MP assets. Typical MP support may include an I/R brigade liaison detachment (BLD), MP brigades and battalions, a division MP company, a military-working-dog (MWD) team, a L&O team, and a customs team. Figure 1-3 depicts a typical MP organization throughout the TO. In the COMMZ, Figure 1-3 depicts the different types of MP units that are assigned to echelons above corps (EAC) (the ASCC or the TSC). In the CZ, Figure 1-3 depicts the different types of MP units that are assigned to corps, division, and the separate brigades.

Figure 1-3. MP Structure in the TO


1-14. MP support in the COMMZ is provided by an array of multifunctional MP units. The following MP units provide MP support to EAC:

  • The MP brigade (I/R). The MP brigade (I/R) may augment the ASCC or the TSC during wartime. Its mission is to provide command, staff planning, and supervision of I/R operations. This includes coordination with joint and host-nation (HN) agencies, civilian police authority, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and US federal agencies.
  • The MP brigade (CS). The MP brigade (CS) is assigned to the ASCC or the TSC during wartime (based on METT-TC). The MP brigade (CS) is capable of performing all five MP functions.
  • The Criminal Investigation Division (CID) group. The CID group is a stovepipe organization that reports directly to the Commander, US Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC). The CID group provides support to the ASCC and subordinate commands (TSC, corps, or division). See Chapter 9 for further discussion of CID support.

1-15. MP support to other EAC subordinate commands is performed only if MP resources are available. See Chapter 5 for further discussion of MP support to EAC.


1-16. MP support is provided in the CZ to each corps, division, and brigade (separate teams or initial/interim brigade combat teams [IBCTs]). An MP brigade (CS) is assigned to each corps, and the MP brigade commander is the corps's provost marshal (PM). A PM and his section, along with an organic division MP company, are assigned to each division. A PM cell and an MP platoon are organic to a separate brigade. A two-person PM cell is organic to the IBCT. The MP units assigned to corps, divisions, and separate brigades are capable of performing all five MP functions. They provide combat, CS, and combat-service-support (CSS) operations within their command's AO.


1-17. Most MP units supporting a TO and a JOA are capable of performing all five MP functions. However, the functions must be prioritized based on METT-TC and the availability of MP assets. Current MP structures are designed and tailored to better support the level of command deployed. For example, at the division level, division MP companies are organized as light, heavy, airborne, or air assault and are organic to their respective divisions. The EAC and corps MP brigades and battalions are equally designed to command and control a force mix of up to six battalions or companies. An MP escort-guard and guard company are designed to transport, guard, and provide security to EPWs, civilian internees (CIs), or dislocated civilians. The MP escort-guard company is assigned to the MP brigade (I/R), and the MP guard company is assigned to the MP battalion (I/R).

1-18. MP units can also be tailored and augmented to accomplish multiple, diverse,or specific missions. Customs, L& and MWD teams are examples of MP capabilities and flexible responses to a combatant commander's operational requirements. (See Table 1-1 for a more complete description of MP units. See FM 19-10 and Army Regulation (AR) 190-12 for further information.) The battlefield workload analysis (BWA) is a tool used to determine the number of MP units required to perform some of these multiple missions (see AppendixC).

Table 1-1. Unit Descriptions

Table 1-1. Unit Descriptions (continued)

Table 1-1. Unit Descriptions (continued)

Table 1-1. Unit Descriptions (continued)

Table 1-1. Unit Descriptions (continued)

Table 1-1. Unit Descriptions (continued)

Table 1-1. Unit Descriptions (continued)

Table 1-1. Unit Descriptions (continued)

Table 1-1. Unit Descriptions (continued)

Table 1-1. Unit Descriptions (continued)

Table 1-1. Unit Descriptions (continued)


1-19. In today's environment, the Army will rarely operate or fight alone. The high probability that the Army will operate in concert with its sister services, in an alliance with the forces of foreign nations, or in support of United Nations (UN) operations (when it is committed) is fully reflected in joint doctrine. In such operations, protecting LOC, key facilities, and command and control (C2) centers will be a shared responsibility. Under this framework, MP units can expect to share the AO with joint, combined, multinational, or interagency resources. MP forces must be prepared to conduct a number of full-spectrum operations with a variety of government and nongovernmental agencies, other services, allied nations, and international agencies.

1-20. Corps and division commanders and staffs must plan (in advance) the transition from a single-service headquarters with joint representation to a joint headquarters capable of functioning as a joint task force (JTF) headquarters. When tasked to form a JTF headquarters, the corps or division must ensure that all of the staff sections and agencies have joint representation (see FMs 100-15 and 71-100). To this end, MP planners must ensure that the JTF is augmented with the appropriate MP forces and with the appropriate echeloned C2.

1-21. Regardless of the force mix, the MP provide the force with unparalleled, multifunctional capabilities. Among these capabilities is the MP's ability to generate firepower or to handle populations such as EPWs/CIs, dislocated civilians, and refugees. Additionally, MP expertise in investigations and law enforcement enhances the capabilities of other joint, multinational, and interagency police and security forces.

1-22. MP security plans must reflect the joint synergy derived from combining the multiple and diverse capabilities of all participants. To capitalize upon that synergy, MP leaders must keep an open line of communication and coordination to offset the challenges presented by interoperability. Some of these interoperability challenges include-

  • Differing political objectives.
  • Differing capabilities.
  • Cultural/language differences.
  • Legal and policy constraints.
  • Media impacts.
  • Compromise of sensitive processes, procedures, and equipment.
  • C2.
  • Communications (digital- and analog-equipment differences).

1-23. MP plans must also accommodate differences in planning capabilities, as well as differences in doctrine, training, and equipment. The intent is to match security missions with force capabilities. MP leaders must understand that operations will often involve multinational teams. While US forces routinely task-organize, this may be more difficult to accomplish with some multinational security forces. This kind of orchestration requires employing standardized procedures, communications, equipment, and liaison within the constraints of operations security (OPSEC).

1-24. Coordination is the key to mission accomplishment in multinational and interagency operations. A military coordination center or a civil-military operations center (CMOC) may meet this coordination requirement. The CMOC provides access for nonmilitary agencies desiring military (to include MP/CID) assistance and coordination. These nonmilitary agencies may include-

  • Government organizations (GOs).
  • NGOs.
  • International organizations (IOs).
  • International humanitarian organizations (IHOs).
  • HN authorities and agencies.

1-25. The introduction of US Army MP in any joint, multinational, or interagency operation is based on METT-TC and the capabilities they bring to the operation. Effective integration of MP forces with other security forces reduces redundant functions, clarifies responsibilities, and conserves resources.

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