Redcaps Ready for Global Operations

Military police have exchanged the armoured vehicles and patrol bases of Afghanistan for the boots and backpacks of contingency operations. Ex Eagles Redcap saw 156 Pro Coy RMP training in the harsh environment of Sennybridge in South Wales to be ready for their future role.

Troops stayed in the field throughout the week-long training, relying on their boots to move through the rugged hills of the Brecon Beacons and the kit carried in their backpacks to do their jobs and live off. The light and fast style of contingency operations is a marked change for troops to adapt to after the heavy equipment and logistic support provided in Afghanistan.

The exercise placed the unit into a disputed region, working alongside local security forces to counter insurgents backed by a hostile neighbour. They investigated a mass killing of civilians, gathering evidence at the scene and following up intelligence to build up to a helicopter-borne arrest operation.

The training was intended to test the Colchester-based unit in their role providing policing support to 16 Air Assault Brigade. 156 Pro Coy RMP would deploy a platoon as part of the Airborne Task Force, including trained crime scene investigators from the RMP’s SIB and custodial specialists from the Military Provost Service.

Maj Dougie Hutchinson, OC 156 Pro Coy RMP, said: “This training is designed to be both mentally and physically tough, to challenge my soldiers to break out of the Afghanistan mindset. In Afghanistan, we would arrive in a vehicle with three trunks of kit to investigate an incident. For contingency operations we need to pare that kit back to the minimum and yet still do our job. This exercise has been about working out the policing we can achieve with a notebook, camera, gloves and evidence bags.”

Among those adapting to the different demands of contingency operations is Cpl Stephen Dixon, who was posted to 156 Pro Coy RMP in August 2012 after returning from a six month tour of Afghanistan. He said: “Contingency is all about back to basics soldiering and self-reliance. We’ve done a lot of walking carrying all the kit we need, because there won’t always be transport available, which makes it that bit tougher.”

L/Cpl Laura Head, said: “I’ve only been in the Army for a year and this is my first real exercise with the unit. It’s been hard work but rewarding to get out and get an idea of what our role would be on operations.”

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