Force protection—priority one at Fort Hood

Force protection—priority one at Fort Hood

Kimiko E. Sullins

The events of September 11, 2001, forever changed the way the Army conducts its day-to-day operations. In light of the increased threat to Americans on our own soil, the MP Corps has felt the deep effects of the increased force protection posture that has gripped every U.S. military installation worldwide. The III Corps and Fort Hood, Texas, commander, Lieutenant General (LTG) B.B. Bell stated III Corps’s newly emphasized mission succinctly when he wrote in the Fort Hood Sentinel “Our first priority here is force protection. “All other missions have become secondary.

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Because Fort Hood is the largest Army installation in the world, it is a particular challenge to protect. Despite that challenge, the 89th MP Brigade, the 4th MP Company (4th Infantry Division), the 545th MP Company (1st Cavalry Division), and the 11th MP Battalion (CID) prove every day that the MP Corps is truly the “force of choice.”

When the news of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon surfaced, III Corps called on the 89th, commanded by Colonel Terry Carrico, to begin implementing measures of THREATCON Delta immediately. The III Corps Provost Marshal Office (PMO) force protection team studied Fort Hood maps and determined which access points would be closed and how many soldiers would be needed to man those access points remaining open. Meanwhile, soldiers from the 178th MP Detachment and the 720th MP Battalion began receiving orders to support these security efforts by manning the restricted gates and transporting barrier supplies to all access points on post. All available soldiers from these two units reported to their designated areas and began restricting access onto the installation. Soldiers from the HHC 89th also contributed by securing the brigade headquarters and surrounding area, as well as assisting in the transport of supplies.

As the day progressed, the PMO’s physical security section traveled to each access point to ensure that the proper manpower and equipment were in place.

The brigade S3 section and the PMO operations section established an emergency operations center (EOC) to command and control the numerous efforts in motion to secure the post. The EOC also served as the liaison–as the Fort Hood PMO worked in concert with numerous local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies–in identifying possible threats. The PMO EOC quickly became the nerve center of the post’s force protection efforts.

Over the next several days and weeks, the brigade and battalion staff continually revised and improved the plan to secure the post. Notwithstanding the sheer size of the installation (both geographically and by population), an additional challenge became restricting access to the post while normal operations continued. An estimated 100,000 vehicles or more enter the post on a normal workday–properly controlling access onto the installation requires several hundred soldiers who Work 8- to 12-hour shifts. This control is critical to the success of the force protection mission. As Sergeant Major (SGM) Timothy Deane, the brigade S3 sergeant major, relayed to the post newspaper, “The focus of the ACP (access-control point) is to positively identify personnel coming onto Fort Hood and their purpose for coming onto the fort.”

It quickly became apparent to III Corps that the 89th could not handle such a vast mission on its own. As a result, III Corps tasked units across Fort Hood to provide unit police–soldiers trained by the MP to assist in controlling installation and facility access.

Parts of the 4th MP Company and the 545th were operationally controlled by the 89th. Each company assumed control of the security for its respective division headquarters and designated access points. Furthermore, each company assumed responsibility for the quick-reaction force assigned to each of the two airfields.

Meanwhile, the 89th also assumed security of the installation’s many high-risk targets and mission-essential vulnerable areas. Also, 24-hour normal law enforcement activities continued.

Reserve Support

Within a matter of weeks, the 89th received some relief from its staggering operational tempo (OPTEMPO) in the form of three Army Reserve units. Their mission was to assist the Fort Hood military police in its homeland defense mission, thus allowing the 89th to partially return to training on its mission-essential task list. Each of these units mobilized expected to remain on Fort Hood for 1 year (up to 2 years in the case of the 4003d).

The 4003d mobilized from the central Texas area. Soldiers from the 4003d hailed from San Antonio and Dallas, Texas, and Oklahoma and New Jersey. The 4003d’s mission was to augment the 178th MP Detachment to conduct provost marshal operations. Several of the unit’s soldiers are trained police officers in the civilian sector. The soldiers of the 4003d include soldiers trained as MP investigators, corrections officers, traffic investigators, and security specialists.

The 428th MP Company mobilized from its home base of South Bend, Indiana, (it also has a detachment based in Kalamazoo, Michigan). The soldiers are from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. Recent activities of the company before its activation were–

* The 2001 annual training conducted at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

* A deployment to Guatemala in 1999 in support of Hurricane Mitch recovery efforts.

* A JRTC rotation in 1998. The unit is attached to the 720th and is sponsored by the 64th MP Company when transitioning to active duty.

The 814th MP Company was called to active duty from its home station of Arlington Heights, Illinois. The company deployed to JRTC and Guatemala in 1999 and also to the Roving Sands exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas. The unit is attached to the 720th and is sponsored by the 411th MP Company.

Upon the arrival of the brigade’ s newest soldiers, each unit inprocessed and then proceeded to conduct unit-level validation training. This training included essential tasks such as weapons ranges and law enforcement training (with special emphasis on access-control point procedures). Within a matter of a few weeks, these exceptional units had mobilized from their home station, traveled to Fort Hood, and made the transition from the Reserve Component to Active Duty, and were prepared to assume their homeland defense role.

Criminal Investigation Support

Other indispensable contributors to the force protection effort were the criminal investigators. The 11th MP Battalion (CID) and the Fort Hood Resident Agency CID played an integral part in the efforts by immediately establishing communication with specific points of contact in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s terrorism task forces in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and El Paso, Texas. The unit also capitalized on the close working relationships of the local and state law enforcement agencies to provide accurate and updated criminal intelligence and threat assessments to its supported installations. The initiation of these communication lines and flow of information was facilitated by longstanding personal and professional relationships maintained by the CID throughout the years.

The Fort Hood CID special agent in charge and the battalion operations section have been critical players, ensuring that sensitive, real-time criminal intelligence received from numerous sources was disseminated to III Corps’s threat-fusion cell. This investigative effort and input was essential in verifying or refuting raw intelligence. The CID also initiated limited scope/updated personal security vulnerability assessments (PSVAs) of the many high-risk personnel (HRP) stationed at Fort Hood. Historical PSVAs were updated, while new ones were initiated on the newly assigned HRP. Further, at the request of the III Corps commander, the CID provided a personal security officer to travel with LTG Bell on a scheduled trip to Kuwait, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

The CID continues to collect criminal intelligence from various sources, conduct assessments, and provide information to the III Corps PMO and its threat-fusion cell. The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command now publishes periodic criminal intelligence summaries (CRIM INTSUMs), which are available to Army law enforcement and security and force protection planners on a portion of the CID Intranet Web site. The CRIM INTSUMs provide ready access to much of the unclassified worldwide criminal intelligence collected by the CID. The CID continues to “do what has to be done” to meet the increased force protection demands.

Garrison Support

Another challenge for the MP at Fort Hood was the Department-of-Defense-mandated vehicle registration process. The process began on 9 July with a test unit to refine the operation. On the evening of 10 September, the PMO vehicle registration team, lead by SSG John Wherry of the 178th MP Detachment, had registered 35,487 vehicles. In light of the restricted access to post after 11 September, the vehicle registration team diligently searched for ways to expedite the registration process. It successfully set up additional registration sites in the local communities of Killeen and Copperas Cove, as well as setting up additional on-post sites. As a result, an additional 39,848 vehicles were registered between 11 September and 11 October. To date, a total of 82,240 vehicles have been registered with the PMO. Having vehicles registered makes a dramatic difference at the ACPs in that occupants of registered vehicles are only required to present their identification and submit to random vehicle searches. Each unregistered vehicle, however, must be searched before entering the installation.

The 720th MP Battalion is responsible for conducting maneuver and mobility support operations and area security in support of units departing for rotations to the National Training Center, overseas deployments, and other real-world missions.

Over the last months, the MP Corps, along with the United States, has been tested. Time and again, MP face challenges that seem to stretch our capabilities to the limit. However, each time, the Corps follows through and successfully completes any contingency presented to it. The MP at Fort Hood are no different. Faced with challenging missions and exceptional circumstances, the 4th, the 545th, the 11th (CID), and the 89th MP Brigade will again illustrate the versatility and flexibility of today’s MP soldiers. Proven in battle!

Additional contributors: Lieutenant Colonel Brenda Bess, 11th MP Battalion; Captains Mavis Hutchings, 178th MP Detachment; Jeremy Willingham, 64th MP Company; Derrick Stanton, 4th MP Company; and Senn Tyson, 545th MP Company.

Captain Kimiko Sullins is the adjutant of the 89th MP Brigade. Her past assignments include platoon leader, 21st MP Company (Airborne), and battalion S4, 503d (Airborne), Fort Bragg. She holds a bachelor’s in American history from the U.S. Military Academy.

COPYRIGHT 2002 U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group