557th MPs train on taking out gunmen
Image by USAG-Humphreys
By W. Wayne Marlow
USAG Humphreys Public Affairs
CAMP HUMPHREYS — When Military Police Soldiers return from a deployment, it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be facing dangerous situations.
Incidents at Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Texas, and Phoenix are vivid reminders of that.
However, the techniques and tactics that allowed for a successful deployment may not translate well in the United States.
“What we do in Iraq is not the same thing as in garrison,” said Cpl. Matthew Heydon, a team leader with the 557th Military Police Company.
With that in mind, the 557th trained on responding to active shooters on Feb. 24 and 25. The MPs conducted the paintball training in a former barracks building near the gas station.
The MPs would receive notice that a shooter was in the building and they had only that and their accumulated knowledge to fall back on.
Sergeant 1st Class Michael Brown, a 557th platoon sergeant, helped orgazine the training and he said it was more like Special Weapons and Tactics training than traditonal military work.
“The difference is that SWAT deals with barricaded subjects and hostages and here the focus is on active shooters,” he said.
Brown had his Soldiers start with solo missions because, he said, “We want them to go through by themsleves to get over their nervousness and to give them the confidence to go through.”
Knowing that a gunman was on the loose was all the knowledge Soldiers such as Pfc. Khalid Abbady had to work with.
“I was told to respond to an active shooter in the building,” said Abbady, a 557th medic. “This guy could be anywhere. There were seven to eight casualties in there.”
The notional casualites were picked for the role because they had no MP training, which Brown said “adds a more realistic effect.”
Some of the role-players were lying motionless and splattered in paintball explosions, while others went screaming from a room, panicking. Still, they managed to let Abbady know where the shooter was holed up.
“There were seven to eight casualties in there. Some were wounded and some were dead,” Abbady recalled. “I knew he was on the last door on the right. I went in quickly and tried to neutralize the threat. I went directly to the door and I went in and I got hit.”
Abbady continued to work on taking out the threat, only to get attacked by a second shooter.
But that makes for good training, he realized.
“It’s been a huge help and has been realistic,” Abbady said. “It changes everything when somebody’s in there. I learned not to fixate on one shooter because there could be more. You have to watch out for everything. And don’t leave your back to the door. I got it from behind.”
Heydon echoed Abbady’s sentiments about the training’s quality.
“I’ve done similar things, but not this in depth. This is my first paintball training … and it’s more related to getting people out alive as opposed to room clearing where your just out to kill the person.”
Heydon described what happened when his turn came.
"I got the call, got out of my vehicle on the safe side, and radioed to get all the information I could,” he said. “I learned there was a guy on the first floor, so I went in there and heard a lot of people yelling. I was clearing a room when six or seven people came out from the hallway and told me where the shooter was.”
Falling back on his training and instinct, Heydon entered the room and got shot in the arm, but continued and elmininated the threat.
“But I got shot by the second shooter,” he said. “Then I eliminated him and finished the search.”
Sergeant David Banikci, a 557th team leader, said the training was “a lot better from the all-around aspect. Everying downrange is focused on the tactical side. Here in garrison, you’re going to act competely different than a tactical situation.”