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Military Police

Military police support to the Bosnian municipal elections consisted of operations spanning three of the four MP missions: BCC (Battlefield Circulation Control), area security, and law and order. While MP actions were not explicitly identified as being in support of the elections, they played an important role in contributing to the stability and security of the voting process throughout Task Force Eagle's sector.

Task Organization

During the Municipal Elections, one division and two corps MP companies were attached to TFE (Task Force Eagle). Additional TFE MP support consisted of a division provost marshal cell, a DSE (Division Support Element) from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (historically referred to as CID), a MWD (Military Working Dog) detachment, and a staff to run an MP station.

MP and Infantry at a Traffic Control Point

Task Force Eagle's MP assets were assembled from several sources. The division MP company and provost marshal cell were organic to TFE's mechanized infantry division headquarters. The two corps MP companies were from FORSCOM (Forces Command) MP battalions in CONUS (Continental United States). The DSE (six CID agents) was assembled from CONUS and U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) CID detachments. An ASG (Area Support Group) in Germany provided the MWD detachment and MP station staff.

The division (five platoons) and corps MP companies (four platoons each) were attached DS (Direct Support) to three subordinate TFE task force headquartered at Base Camps McGovern, Bedrock, and Dobol. The division MP company was further divided with one platoon attached to elements of a TF (Task Force) headquarters located at another base camp. Two platoons from one of the corps MP companies were stationed at Eagle Base to provide law enforcement, security, and convoy escort support. One platoon from the other corps MP company was also attached to elements of a TF headquarters located at another base camp. The DSE, MWD detachment, and MP station remained in GS (General Support) of TFE at Eagle Base.


The three MP companies all had similar missions during the municipal elections. Each company was assigned a sector in which it conducted BCC and area security missions. A sector included one or more opstinas (similar to a county) and several polling sites. Four days prior to the elections, the companies established CPs (Command Posts) in each sector. The CPs were centrally located to ensure the companies could communicate with their subordinate platoons. The companies then conducted area and zone reconnaissance, coordinated with OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) elections officials, and began patrolling (three to four MP teams).

The division MP company had responsibility for a sector encompassing two opstinas in the north of TFE's AOR (Area of Responsibility). Two platoons from the company were attached out; one each to a mechanized infantry company and tank company. The remaining three platoons stayed under the command and control of the MP company headquarters. The company placed one platoon in each opstina and held one platoon in reserve as the QRF (Quick Reaction Force) at the company CP near the IEBL (Inter-Entity Boundary Line). The company established a TCP (Traffic Control Post) at the IEBL to monitor bus traffic heading to the polling sites. During the elections, the platoons conducted MSR (Main Supply Route) patrols and made frequent stops at local polling sites.

One of the corps MP companies was assigned a sector in the middle of TFE's AOR. The company only had two platoons under its control because the other two platoons were attached to TFE headquarters for law enforcement, escort, and PSD (Protective Services Detail) missions. The company was identified as the main effort during the elections for its associated task force and was responsible for six polling sites. During the elections, the company patrolled its sector and established OPs (Observation Posts) at weapons storage sites. The company was given a "be-prepared" mission to transport absentee ballots at the conclusion of the municipal elections.

MP with MWD Search Auto at Traffic Control Point

The other corps MP company was given a sector in the south of TFE's AOR. One platoon was placed under the operational control of an armored cavalry troop, while three platoons remained under the MP company headquarters. The company kept one platoon collocated with the CP as the task force QRF and assigned BCC and area security missions to the other two. The QRF platoon was outfitted with riot control gear and on standby to conduct civil disturbance operations. Of the other two platoons, one established patrols on routes leading to polling sites, while the other patrolled the company sector. One of the polling sites in the company sector was expected to draw over 700 voters, so patrols in that area focused on keeping the route to the site open.

The company also provided limited logistical support to TF units operating in adjacent sectors. The company set up its MKT (Mobile Kitchen Trailer) and maintenance section at the CP and provided mess and vehicle recovery support to the other units. After the elections, the company assisted the OSCE in transporting ballots to collection centers.

With the exception of the division MP company in the north, no significant events or difficulties occurred during the elections. A patrol from the division MP company observed shots fired near a polling site and immediately called for assistance from the company. Within an hour, the company had secured the area and coordinated with local police and the IPTF (International Police Task Force) to investigate. Further inquiry by local police officials revealed it was not related to the elections and that it was an attempted jail break.

Nonlethal Munitions and Civil Disturbance Training

MP and Infantry Confront Crowd in Bijelina

In response to a series of violent clashes with Bosnian Serbs (in Brcko and Bijelina) a few weeks before the elections, TFE decided to acquire and train units on the use of nonlethal munitions. The TFE staff coordinated with U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) for the delivery of nonlethal munitions and riot control gear into the AOR.

TFE decided to acquire this equipment to provide subordinate units with a nonlethal response means. Two days after clashes in Brcko, a mobile training team (MTT) from the U.S. Army MP School (USAMPS) deployed to Bosnia to train TFE units on how to use various types of nonlethal munitions fired from the M203 grenade launcher. The MTT, comprised of three NCO subject matter experts (SMEs), traveled to two outlying base camps to train TFE soldiers from subordinate task forces.

Prior to arriving in TFE's AOR, the MTT took responsibility for approximately 1,200 rounds of nonlethal munitions stored at the ISB (Intermediate Staging Base) in Tazar, Hungary. This ammunition was then brought by the MTT into Bosnia. Upon arrival in TFE's AOR, the MTT turned the nonlethal munitions over to the TFE G4 for subsequent distribution to subordinate units. A week later, TFE received CS powder which was issued to MP units with M33 riot control agent dispersers.

The training, which took place on two separate days, focused on teaching soldiers how to load, aim, and fire various types of M203 launched nonlethal munitions. Additionally, the soldiers were given a brief class on the characteristics of each round and on appropriate firing distances. Each soldier then fired 5-10 rounds of each type of nonlethal munition at E-type silhouettes from various ranges.

A few days after the training, TFE coordinated with USAREUR for the acquisition of riot control equipment for anticipated clashes. The Joint Military Commission's "Policy and Planning Guidance Handbook" states that "SFOR will not.assume responsibility for civil disturbances;" however, TFE made the decision to acquire riot control equipment based on the inability of Bosnia Serbian police to control civil disturbances. TFE requested 1,200 sets of riot control equipment, including face shields and body shields. Additionally, TFE requested 16 additional M33 riot control agent dispersers with CS powder for the MP companies attached to the subordinate task forces.

After coordinating with USAREUR for the riot control gear, TFE developed a civil disturbance training plan to train subordinate task forces. The TFE PM cell created three mission training plans (MTPs) based on riot control principles in FM 19-4, Military Police Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, FM 19-15, Civil Disturbances, STP 19-95B1-SM, as well as TTP (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) developed during previous deployments by TFE PM staff members.


  • MP commanders must continue to anticipate nondoctrinal employment and command relationships. Division and corps MP companies should expect to be employed in a similar fashion. Division MP companies should expect to support noncontiguously arrayed combined arms task forces. Direct support and general support MP platoons from division MP companies may remain under the command and control of company headquarters. Division MP companies may be expected to conduct the same missions as corps MP companies but with fewer resources. Corps MP companies may not be employed purely in GS (General Support). Habitual relationships between division MP platoons and brigade task forces may be severed based on METT-TC and mission analysis.

  • The mobility and firepower of division and corps MP companies make them well suited for a variety of missions in a SASO (Stability and Support Operations) environment. As maneuver commanders continue to become more cognizant of this, MP commanders should expect that they will be empowered with even greater responsibility.

  • MP are a distinct asset in SASO operations. They are experienced in a case-by-case approach to the use of force and the de-escalation of potential violence.

  • The mobility and firepower of the MP companies made them well-suited to maintaining security within their respective sectors. Each MP team, comprised of three soldiers and an up-armored HMMWV, had a M203 grenade launcher, M249 squad automatic weapon, vehicle-mounted crew-served weapon (either MK-19 grenade machine gun or M60 machine gun), and dual FM radio capability. The companies also possessed RETRANS (Re-Transmission) sections which gave the TF commanders communications agility. In contrast, not every vehicle in the task force's combat arms units had FM capability, an up-armored HMMWV, or a vehicle-mounted crew-served weapon. The TF commanders were able to capitalize on the strengths of the MP companies which greatly contributed to the success of the mission.

  • Commanders must exercise discretion when attaching subunits of supporting MP to other units. MP operate with economy of force. Directly attaching all MP to other units can impact the ability of the MP commander to generate substantial short-term combat power for the tactical commander. Organized in small tactical elements, as teams or squads, MP perform a wide range of support--keyed to the echelon commander's priorities. The ability of MP to provide support to the commander can be adversely affected by reducing the number of MP operating as teams and squads.

  • MP commanders should prepare for employment in elements larger than teams. Due to force protection requirements, most MP operated in squad-sized units during Operation JOINT GUARD. MP almost never operated as teams. Force protection requirements may affect MP flexibility and make it more difficult to accomplish the mission. Future deployments may reveal it is no longer practical to consider the MP team as the basic unit of employment. However, MP teams will remain as cornerstone building blocks of squads and platoons.

  • Corps MP companies are capable of providing limited CSS (Combat Service Support) to other units not capable of self-sustainment. Because corps MP companies possess their own communications, maintenance and vehicle recovery, personnel and administration, mess, and operations sections, they can operate independently. The use of corps MP companies to sustain other units should be made as an exception, and only after careful mission analysis and consideration of METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops and Time Available, Civilians).

  • Units deployed as a peacekeeping force must anticipate encountering hostile crowds. Host-nation police may not be capable or willing to contain civil disturbances. Prior to deploying, units should conduct training on civil disturbances and crowd-control actions.

  • Units resourced to employ nonlethal munitions must be trained. Prior to using nonlethal munitions, units need to be trained on rules of engagement outlining the conditions under which each type of nonlethal round may be used. Units should also be trained on how to integrate the use of nonlethal munitions with conventional civil disturbance operations. After the unit training is completed, nonlethal rounds should be issued down to units as soon as possible.

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