California and the Global War on Terrorism
The 49th Military Police Brigade in Iraq
by Lt. Col. Grace Edinboro
Executive Officer, 49th Military Police Brigade

The 49th Military Police Brigade during Operation Iraqi Freedom 05-07 (September 2005 - September 2006) consisted of the Brigade Headquarters, three MP Battalions, 23 Companies, and five Detachments which performed full spectrum MP operations throughout 14 of 18 provinces in Iraq, from October 2005 through March 2007. The units, from AC posts in CONUS, Germany, and Korea, National Guard from eight states and the District of Columbia, one USAR region, and the United States Air Force, came together to perform possibly the most strategic mission in the Iraqi Theater of Operations in 2006: The Year of the Police in Iraq. The units deployed independently starting in September 2005, with the final 05-07 unit assuming its mission in May 2006. Another five companies joined us in July 2006 to add to the Police Partnership capability the brigade offered to MNC-I. Altogether, almost 4500 Soldiers, Airmen, and several Navy Electronic Warfare Officers worked together to secure key Iraqi, US, and UN politicians and diplomats and partner with the Iraqi Police Service to set the stage for independent police operations and Provincial Iraqi Control.

The 49th's assumption of this mission came at a critical time for Military Police forces in Iraq. In August 2005, the two MP Brigades had split functionally, with all the detention operations missions going to one brigade under Task Force 134, and all the general support and missions in support of the Iraqi Police falling to the other brigade. This focus on the Iraqi Police grew to be the decisive mission of the 49th MP Brigade, taking us away from the more traditional MP missions of Area Security and Maneuver & Mobility Support Operations. The form it would take is the Police Transition Team. The importance of this mission is underscored by the fact that the Multinational Forces and Multinational Corps Commanding Generals referred to 2006 as the Year of the Police, making it the decisive operation for the entire effort in Iraq.

In less than three months, the 49th MP Brigade created and distributed Police Transition Teams to fourteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces. PTTs consist of Military Police, International Police Liaison Officers (IPLO), and Linguists. The teams work at Station, District and Provincial level to partner with the Iraqi Police and assist them in every way to develop into a professional police force. PTTs assess each IP organization, assist them in improving force protection of their employees and facilities, assist in distribution of vital police equipment needed to do their job (vehicles, weapons, radios, vests, and police equipment), assist in the administration of the force. Training is a big part of how PTTs assist the IPS. They train IPs, they prepare IP leaders to train their own forces by teaching and mentoring them in a train the trainer mode, they monitor the status of IPs attending the Police Academy, and work to get new recruits into the academy. The 49th MP Brigade has ensured that the IPS has sent 30,000 IPs through an academy since October 2005, close to meeting the goal of 135,000 trained Iraqi Police. In time, the Brigade had over 200 PTTs working in 14 of 18 Iraqi Provincial HQs, 60 District HQs, and 240 Stations. The last several months of the Brigade's tenure was spent in receiving, equipping, and fielding five new MP Companies. These were initially sent to Iraq to augment the PTT coverage in the western and northern provinces, but their mission changed upon arrival, and all were fielded in Baghdad to help offset sectarian violence and participate in Operation Together Forward, Phase II.

In addition to executing the Corps' Decisive Operation, 49th Military Police Brigade elements provided static and escort security for Iraq's Tier 1 level government officials, to include the President and Prime Minister of Iraq. We also provided security for the US Embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone, and personal security for the US Ambassador, the Deputy US Ambassador, and the UN Ambassador and Deputy. This mission experienced no events and resulted in the complete safety of all persons protected. Their protection was of vital strategic importance to Multi-National Forces and the coalition's entire effort to promote a stable permanent Government of Iraq.

Theater level detention operations were handled by the 43rd MP Brigade, but 49th elements did assist the 101st Division in running a Brigade Internment Facility at LSA Diamondback, and the Division Internment Facility at FOB Remagen. 709th MP Battalion elements were also involved in transporting prisoners from these facilities. This was a highly successful mission, with the BIF at LSA Diamondback being named the best facility in theater.

The final mission accomplished by the 49th MP Brigade was Law and Order for four coalition bases in Iraq: Victory Base Complex, COB Speicher, LSA Anaconda, and Tallil AFB. Brigade elements provided L&O on FOB Marez/LSA Diamondback until that mission was withdrawn as well. The efforts to maintain law and order on our major posts enabled commanders throughout the theater to provide a safe and secure environment for their Soldiers to live.

A group of people without whom we could not accomplish our mission in Iraq are the Interpreters who help us communicate with the Iraqi Police, security forces, and the Iraqi people. The Brigade had over 350 Interpreters contracted to work with us, and they put their lives, and sometimes the lives of their families, on the line to assist us every day. Some are Arabic speaking US citizens, often of Middle Eastern descent or origin, and many are local nationals who speak English and who work with Coalition Forces to play a part in improving their country. They were important parts of our team, from the Interpreters who worked in the Police Transition Teams to the Interpreter who translated for the Brigade Commander in his many interactions with Iraqi leaders. We couldn't have accomplished our mission so well without them.

The other group of professionals who worked with and became a part of the 49th Military Police Brigade are the International Police Liaison Officers (IPLO) who are employed by Dyncorp, and managed in theater by CPATT - the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team. IPLOs are current or former police officers who mentor and train the Iraqi Police with the assistance of Soldiers from the 49th MP Brigade. Their experience as civilian police officers adds a valuable dimension to the training we are able to conduct with the Iraqi Police, and they work very closely with their military counterparts to add that civilian police dimension into the police training. Almost 400 IPLOs work with the PTTs of the 49th, and they add an aspect of policing experience that is hard to find among MPs. IPLOs became an integral part of the 49th MP Brigade family, and we wouldn't have accomplished our mission to the extent we did without them.

The working environment for 49th MP Brigade Soldiers was often not safe and secure. The mission of training Iraqi Police required over 10,000 miles of travel on the most dangerous, most austere roads in Iraq. But each day, the Soldiers and Airmen of the brigade pressed on to share risk with our Iraqi Partners in Blue. Twelve Soldiers and an IPLO lost their lives in service to their country while performing missions that would help the Iraqi Police become a professional force.

49th Military Police Brigade units were spread throughout 14 of the 18 Iraqi Provinces. From very austere, remote positions away from any FOB to the nicest accommodations offered in Iraq, we ran our missions. Some teams stayed at Iraqi Police Stations for days at a time, living and working with their IP counterparts. Others rarely left the FOB. All played an important role in improving the IPS. Thirteen Soldiers and an International Police Liaison Officer lost their lives during this mission, and approximately thirty were seriously wounded and evacuated from theater.

HHC 49th Military Police Brigade activated in the California Army National Guard January 16, 2005 in Fairfield, California, specifically to mobilize and deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The "Sentinels" formed a competent and cohesive headquarters in the five-month period before their mobilization, and mobilized to Fort Hood in May. After four months of further training, they deployed from Fort Hood, through Kuwait, to Iraq, arriving in early October 2005. The California Army National Guard headquarters relieved the 42nd Military Police Brigade from Fort Lewis, WA in a Transfer of Authority on 2 November 2005.

HHC 49th MP Brigade consists of about 100 Soldiers who provide command and control to the brigade 24/7.

The Command Group, consisting of the Brigade Commander (COL (P) Rod Barham), CSM (CSM Andres Roman), Deputy Commanders (COL Diana Bodner and COL Donald Currier) , and XO (LTC Grace Edinboro) provided guidance to the brigade's units and staff. The Company Headquarters, consisting of the Company Commander, (CPT Peter Lewis), First Sergeant, (1SG Cari Beetham), Admin and Supply Sections took care of the Soldiers of the HHC, from clothing and feeding them to processing promotions and awards and obtaining ammunition. Their dedication to supporting the Company allowed the staff to manage the Brigade.

The S1 Section led by MAJ David Schmith supported the brigade in all areas of personnel operations. They processed over 6000 awards, managed personnel accountability for over 4000 troops, ensured casualty operations were performed efficiently with no error, processed over 200 officer and NCO evaluations, provided Safety Program overview to the battalions, reenlisted over 35 Soldiers, operated the Mail Room and conducted MWR programs for the headquarters. Taking care of Soldiers was their way of life. The S1 also coordinated with the Iraqi Police to provide assistance to the Baghdad Provincial HQs in administrative, pay, and automation training for personnel areas, and tracked Police Academy training slots. Public Affairs fell under S1, and was a hug success during this rotation. The Bde PAO (CPT Johathan Shiroma) facilitated more than 50 embedded reporters from news agencies around the world to get the story out about training the IPS. Articles or news stories appeardd in CBS Evening News, ABC Wrold News, The Early Show on CBS, France 3 News, National Public Radio, New York Times, Los Angeses Times, Knight Ridder Newspapers, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Forbes Magazine, Rolling Stone, Associated Press, Paris Match Magazine, Speigel Magazine, Newsweek, Time, USA Today, and numerous regional and local TV stations and newspapers.

The S2 Section led by CPT Timothy Fessier collected, assessed, and distributed intelligence that helped our Soldiers make timely decisions about the enemy threat. They provided the Commander with information about events throughout Iraq that directly impacted on our Soldiers. Their intelligence products helped save lives and helped leaders prosecute the war.

The S3 Section led by LTC Peter Cross and SGM Leona Wheeler ran daily operations, 24/7, for 317 days. They collected reports from subordinate units, received orders and FRAGOs from MNC-I, MND-B, MND-N, and MNF-W. They published four major orders and over 400 FRAGOs and disseminated information throughout the Brigade to ensure all units received their missions and executed them correctly. The S3 put Liaison Officers at key headquarters, and coordinated with both divisions and Corps to ensure everyone stayed on track with the PTT mission. They managed movement operations and ensured the S2 Section was closely embedded with TOC Operations.

The S4 Section led by MAJ Timothy Johnston was divided, but worked together to support the brigade and the Iraqi Police. They supported logistics operations for the brigade throughout Iraq, to include securing equipment for five new companies added to the brigade during our tenure. They provided oversight to maintenance operations, and managed $12.5 million in maintenance and budget items. On the IPS side, the S4 Section facilitated transfer of over $64 million of equipment to the IPS. They worked closely with managers at the Central Maintenance Facility to transfer and distribute equipment, and to provide maintenance for Baghdad area police vehicles and equipment. Their tremendous efforts enabled the Iraqi Police to properly equip their forces.

The S5 Section led by LTC Judy Mavroleon transformed itself into the core element of what became a task force to oversee the Police Partnership Program (P3). Task Force P3, commanded by COL Don Currier, developed the PTT program, trained PTT members before they deployed their teams, developed and improved the Police Station Monthly Report which became the standard against which Iraqi Police organizations are evaluated. They coordinated with the BCTs and Divisions to facilitate the PTT mission, and provided technical expertise for the program. They interfaced with CPATT (Civilian Police Assistance Transition Team) and provided information regarding PTT issues to all agencies involved in the program. They collected information on the activities of PTTs throughout Iraq and kept the Brigade Commander apprised of issues, successes and failures.

The S6 Section led by LTC Keith Tresh ensured the brigade headquarters and it's subordinate elements' communications and automation systems were always mission capable. They were instrumental in obtaining over $9 million worth of new equipment that allowed the PTTs to communicate throughout Iraq. The S6 team also worked with Baghdad Police, Patrol, Traffic, River Patrol, CID, and Highway Patrol Headquarters communications and computer personnel to improve Iraqi Police communications and automation systems. They also provided radio, Microsoft specific, and Internet systems training to both 49th MP BDE soldiers and Iraqi Police members. By working the C6 Validation Board process the S6 section improved the infrastructure and systems they fell in on and ensured new and replacement systems were approved for purchase and use.

The Brigade Special Staff consists of the Command Judge Advocate, the Chaplain, and the Inspector General. The CJA section tracked all mandated investigations arising from operational incidents. During this operation, over 130 AR 15-6 informal investigations and 45 Commander's Inquiries were conducted which the section monitored and reviewed for legal sufficiency, over 190 Soldiers received non-judicial punishment under Article 15 of the UCMJ and one General Court Martial was convened on a Brigade Soldier by Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I). The Brigade's Trial Counsel prosecuted two insurgents standing trial at the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI). The Section's advice and guidance to the Commander relative to military, operational and administrative law proved invaluable. The Chaplain conducted weekly services, supervised Battalion Chaplains, and ministered to the Soldiers of the Brigade. His comfort was especially important to Soldiers dealing with traumatic events such as KIAs, significant combat operations, or unfortunate events happening at home. The IG served as an extension of the eyes, ears, voice, and conscience of the Commander. As an impartial fact finder, he and his staff were determined in their pursuit of the truth in situations throughout the command. He and his section were also available to Soldiers who needed to file IG Action Requests in order to obtain assistance or get clarification on Army policies and regulation. The IG Section conducted 4 compressed inspections, two investigations, and handled/closed over 80 IGAR issues.

The Brigade HHC lost one Soldier in an attack on a convoy during the deployment: Sergeant First Class Isaac S. Lawson was killed in northeast Baghdad on June 5th, 2006.

Search our Site!
Search the Web Search California Military History Online
Questions and comments concerning this site should be directed to the Webmaster
Updated 8 February 2016