Story and Photo by
Spc. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — More than 100 “Warfighters” marched out of Wheeler Gulch, here, and into the arms of their loved ones after a yearlong mission to Afghanistan, Feb. 8.
While deployed, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th MP Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, provided command and control for three military police companies. The unit also mentored Afghan Uniformed Police throughout eight provinces in Rear Command-East.
This task was not easy, with the future presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan being uncertain and a political haze surrounding the mentorship program lingering overhead.
Also, another real physical roadblock was laid out in front of the Warfighters: logistics.
According to Maj. Alexander Murray, operations officer, HHD, his unit combated those problems by digging a foxhole for two.
“We became fully embedded,” Murray said. “We had 24-hour presence with primary staff.”
Close contact allowed both sides to understand each others’ needs. The coalition teams overcame logistical problems by identifying the needs of the precincts, before a lack of supplies could put a quick stop to a mission.
As structural problems began to disintegrate among between the MPs and the AUP, the Soldiers back in Kabul, Afghanistan, began to work their magic.
“The first six months seemed easy,” said Spc. Daryl Tippens, intelligence analyst, HHD. “Too easy.”
Reality struck in the form of a vehicle-born, indirect explosive device.
What at first glance appeared simple became a more complex series of issues. To combat the problems, the MPs went digging for solutions.
“We became a well-oiled machine,” Tippens said.
New strategies and information were unearthed, allowing for better strategic planning and quicker tactical responses.
“(The AUP) were excited to work with us; we became a family,” Murray said.
And like every family, the MPs made sure their brothers had the skills to start setting out on their own, to make their own claim.
Slowly, but surely, the unit’s Afghan counterparts took a more prominent role in policing their citizens.
“We vastly improved their regional AUP headquarters,” Murray said. “By the time we left, they were able to operate with minimal assistance. It was a great opportunity to be out there, to help and become close with our Afghani counterparts, but we missed our families and it’s unbeatable to be back home with them.”