August 24 , 2005
By Staff Sgt. A.J. Coyne
Some Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers had the opportunity to combine their annual training with a real-world mission this summer when their unit traveled to Fort A.P. Hill to provide security assistance during the National Boy Scout Jamboree.
In addition to manning the front gate of the post, the 229th Military Police Company, 91st Troop Command, provided perimeter security, vehicle and bicycle patrols, and a vehicle inspection point from July 9-30. They were also expected to perform escort duties during VIP visits.
Two iterations of Soldiers from the unit served the military and civilian population of the post during their three-week stay. At the height of the operation, nearly 100 military police Soldiers were on the ground.
Every four years, the unit is tasked to support the jamboree, according to Capt. Tanya Seymore, commander of the 229th M.P. Co.
The presence of the additional Soldiers to help with security was welcome by the community because of the enormous increase in the population of the post. More than 40,000 civilians were expected to descend on Fort A.P. Hill for the annual Jamboree.
Although it wasn’t scheduled to begin until July 25, workers and volunteers began converging on the installation weeks in advance. As the number of visitors increased, so did the number of vehicles on post. This meant that, without augmentation from the VaARNG Soldiers, the Fort A.P. Hill police would have had a difficult time keeping traffic moving smoothly in and out of the post.
According to Seymore, having this experience once every four years augments the unit’s regular training and exercises. Duties such as traffic stops are a part of the job that her unit doesn’t get to do on a regular basis.
Because it’s such a high-profile assignment, her Soldiers had to be very professional, Seymore said.
“We want to let the participants know this is a safe and healthy environment,” Seymore said. “But there are quite a few police officers in this unit so they know what to stay focused on.”
Immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, the 229th’s Soldiers deployed to various locations around the state providing force protection. In early 2003, the unit was deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and spent more than a year overseas. It was an experience that changed the way Seymore’s Soldiers viewed future missions. Now they have a better idea of what type of behavior and what type of suspicious material to look for while on security patrols.
“Because of recent events, these Soldiers can see that what we’re fighting isn’t far from home,” she said. “They now know what to look for and that they can find it anywhere.”
But providing security for the event is such a big operation that Seymore’s unit didn’t have enough personnel to handle the mission. Luckily, they received assistance from other Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers.
Both the 229th Chemical Co. and the 1710th Transportation Co. provided Soldiers to assist the MP’s in completing their mission.
“Our Soldiers only have two weeks for AT so having their help was crucial to our mission,” she said. “We also have a lot of Soldiers at schools but we still have to complete our unit training.”
In the months leading up to the event, military police Soldiers traveled to the other two units to provide training to the Soldiers on driver’s training for MP’s, firing a 9-mm weapon and how to conduct vehicle inspections,
In addition to making their civilian guests feel safe, the Soldiers also had the opportunity to put a face on the Army for youngsters who might not otherwise meet a member of the military.
“We not only provided a safe, secure environment,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Bradley, the unit readiness NCO, “but it also allowed us to interact with possible future Soldiers.”