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 A Summary History of the 18th Military Police Brigade

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"Ever Vigilant"

18th Military Police Corps(Updated 11-24-08)

The Military Police Corps is the uniformed law enforcement branch of the United States Army. However, some Military Police (MP) units are designated as Combat MP units whose responsibilities include convoy route protection, route reconnaissance and straggler control, and handling of Prisoners of War (POWs). As one of these units, the 18th Military Police Brigade is the most highly decorated Military Police unit in the United States Army.

The 18th MP Brigade was activated in September of 1966 to command all of the non-divisional military police units operating in Vietnam. Until this time, those units were under the control of commanders in their respective areas, primarily performing security missions in addition to law and order functions. At first, the 18th MP BDE performed many tasks that were unusual or unfamiliar to the military police. Soon these tasks became routine MP missions. The MPs performed the usual law and order, physical security, traffic control and confinement missions. However, during combat operations they could be found in the field patrolling the jungles and villages near Long Binh and in other areas throughout Vietnam.

Click to preview or purchase "The Boldest Plan is the Best" from Amazon.comThe 18th Military Police Brigade's first large scale combat support operations were "Operation Deckhouse IV" and "Operation Attleboro" in November of 1966. During these operations, MPs provided convoy security and traffic control. In "Operation Cedar Falls," the 18th MP BDE supported the 173rd Airborne Brigade in a full-scale strike against an area known as the Iron Triangle, a heavy jungle region near Cu Chi. Living and working in the field, it was here that members of the 720th Military Police Battalion began to earn the 18th MP Brigade's reputation as "the only combat tested MP brigade."

By the fall of 1967, the 18th Military Police Brigade had been assigned the responsibility for the security of a twenty-two square mile area south of Long Binh. This made the 18th the first military police unit in history to man a tactical area of responsibility in a combat zone. The unit conducted more infantry activities that included night ambushes, sweeps, reconnaissance patrols and other small unit operations. During the Tet Offensive that began on January 31, 1968, units of the 18th Military Police Brigade were heavily engaged in the Battle of Saigon, which included key points such as the United States Embassy, BOQ #3, the MACV Annex Area, the Embassy Hotel, and the vicinity of the race track on Plantation Road.

During Vietnam the 18th Military Police Brigade took part in ten campaigns and was awarded four meritorious unit commendations and streamers. The brigade was also awarded the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for its outstanding service. On the morning of March 30, 1973, the 18th Military Police Brigade was inactivated. It was the last major color-bearing unit to leave Vietnam. The largest and only combat tested military police brigade in the history of the Military Police Corps had distinguished itself in its six plus years of activation and duty in Vietnam.

The Brigade was re-activated on August 16, 1985 and continued to faithfully serve as part of V Corps stationed in West Germany during the Cold War. During 1990-1991, battalions from the Brigade deployed to support VII Corps in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and V Corps in Operation Provide Comfort (1991). Elements of the Brigade have also deployed to support Operation Provide Promise (1992 to 1996) and Operation Joint Endeavor (1995) in the former Yugoslavia. Every unit in the 18th MP BDE deployed to the Balkans in 1999.

In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 18th MP Brigade crossed into Iraq on March 22, 2003. There the MPs established Enemy Prisoner of War holding areas for over 3,600 EPWs and conducted Main Supply Route patrolling over 2,500 kilometers in southern Iraq. The Brigade entered Baghdad in April of 2003 and began the task of establishing a new Iraqi Police Service and rebuilding the Iraqi police stations. From the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom until February 2004 the Brigade provided command and control for seven Military Police battalions, one Mechanized Infantry battalion, 30 Military Police companies, and two Law and Order detachments. The Brigade's MPs conducted over 24,000 combat patrols, apprehended over 2,400 criminals, confiscated 7,500 illegal weapons, and trained over 10,000 Iraqi police officers.

While units from the Brigade have continued to serve Afghanistan and Iraq since the beginning of U.S. involvement, the 18th MP Brigade's Headquarters and Headquarters Company again deployed to Iraq in November of 2007 for a 15 month tour. Assigned to the Baghdad area, they are responsible for the training of the Iraqi police forces in the area. In Theater, the Brigade commands and controls over 5,000 American soldiers.

In addition to the Brigade's forces in Iraq, the 92nd and 212th MP Companies are preparing for deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VI. In addition to the 18th MP Bde's support to the War on Terror, many of the brigade's soldiers continually conduct law enforcement and force protection duties in communities located throughout Europe. These military police professionals ensure that the soldiers and families of these communities are assisted, protected, and defended at all times, living up to their motto of "Ever Vigilant."

 

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