Life As A Military Police Officer (MP)

What's it Like Being an Army MP?

U.S. Navy Police Dogs And Their Handlers Deployed To Kuwait
U.S. Navy / Getty Images

There is a difference between Department of Defense (DoD) Police and enlisted military members who actually Military Police (MP).  DoD Police are actually civilian law enforcement officers who attend the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) to work for the Department of Defense.  You will see them working side by side with Military Police Officers who are in the MP MOS or the Masters At Arms Rating (Navy):

Here are more details about the military police in the difference branches of service:

Army - 31B - Military Police

Navy - Masters at Arms

USMC - 5811 - Military Police

Air Force - Security Forces Career Field

Also within the communities or career fields of the above are the dog handlers, crime scene investigators, Accident Investigators, Polygraph Examiner, and criminal investigators.

There are also other federal law enforcement officers who work with military police when investigating crimes, crime scenes, and military members.  

Learn more about military investigative service careers:

At Military Police schooling you will learn law, UCMJ, hand to hand (MP style) fighting, weapons, shooting, driving vehicles (boats, trucks, jeeps).

MP’s are taught that they are alone in the Army and that they must be the most professional soldiers at all times. They are taught to “Set the standards”. After graduation the new MP heads off to a unit.

Not Just Police Officers:

The Military Police and Masters at Arms in the Navy lead, manage, supervise, and perform force protection duties, including use of deadly force to protect personnel and resources.

They operate in various field environments, performs individual, and team patrol movements, both mounted and dismounted, tactical drills, battle procedures, convoys, military operations other than war, anti-terrorism duties, and other special duties. MP also protects nuclear and conventional weapons systems and other resources. They also perform air base defense functions contributing to the force protection mission. The MP also controls and secures terrain inside and outside military installations. Most importantly, the MP defends personnel, equipment, and resources from hostile forces. 

Most units rotate trough a cycle on a base. Here at Ft. Leonard Wood we have a pretty average cycle. One month Law Enforcement, one month Access Control, One month training. During the “Access control” month we work the gates checking ID’s. We issue passes and ensure that only authorized personnel and their vehicles enter the post. During the Law Enforcement month we patrol the base in vehicles and on foot.

We respond to 911 calls and general complaints. We use RADAR to enforce speed laws and of course watch stop signs for violations. The training month is used to prepare for field missions. These can consist of basic soldier skills or advanced unit specific missions. Some units train to escort POW’s during war, others train to support forward units in finding their way. A unit may be tasked with setting up a holding compound (think Camp X-Ray) for prisoners or detainees.

A big question I get asked is, “Are you treated differently as an MP?” The answer is yes and no. Some people are afraid to approach police officers. They picture us all a mean, power hungry people. Others love to taunt cops. Most people are indifferent to us though. They know we are around… they just don’t think about us much. We are by the nature of our duties different though. While many people sleep or take holidays, we work the roads and gates.

24 hours a day you can find a crew of MP’s standing guard or working a beat. 365 days a year you can call the MP station and get a dispatcher on the phone. That’s the nature of MP work.

Military Police are just soldiers doing a different job. We carry weapons with live ammo everyday. We write tickets for people well above our own pay grades.

We face “combat situations” in the front lawns of soldiers’ homes weekly. And when we see a cop behind us we think, “What does this jerk want.”

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