FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The national War Fighter competition tests the physical and mental endurance of Military Police from across the country who serve in the active-duty Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard.
A team from the North Dakota National Guard’s 191st Military Police Company prepared for about two years before heading into the four-day competition against 38 other military police teams from across the nation. The event includes an assortment of Warrior- and Military Police-specific tasks that include zeroing weapons, using a DAGR (Defense Advanced GPS Receiver), taking apart and reassembling weapons, combative skills, and an assortment of other tasks.
The first day was an early check in at 5:20 a.m. and an Army Physical Fitness Test followed by a night land navigation test. Day two was a mash up of several events including medical evacuation, vehicle searches, nonlethal weapons, and a long ruck march to start the day. Next, came the Guardsmen’s favorite and most eventful day of the competition. It started with rappelling before moving on to a shoot house and performing reflective fire. The final task for the day was an improvised explosive device range. After all of that, they had been through the fourth and final day was an endurance ruck march of 15.5 miles.
Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gowan, of Grand Forks, N.D., was one of the three Soldiers from the 191st Military Police Company that participated in this strenuous event.
“I had said from day one that I would like to take a team,” Gowan said. Not only was he part of the first team to go, but also the only noncommissioned officer on the team. “I hope in doing this … I motivate other NCOs (noncommissioned officers) to push and be a part of the competition.”
When asked how he felt his team did, he said, “We started kind of slow but as the days went by we picked up speed and built up some confidence in ourselves and our abilities to perform our Warrior and MP (military police) tasks as well as anyone out there.”
Spc. Scott Jensen, of East Grand Forks, Minn., has been in the 191st for a little more than three years and volunteered to take part in the War Fighter competition.
“Volunteering wasn’t enough though” Jensen said. “I had to put in the time and show that I was committed. A lot of physical training and just sitting down and studying the basics,” he said.
When asked if he would do it again, he said, “I had fun and it was a great learning experience that I would like others in the unit to have. I would like to help train other Soldiers that are thinking of doing it.”
Spc. Austyn Haider, of Bismarck, N.D., was the third and final member of the 191st Military Police Company’s team.
“I was very nervous on the first day,” he said. “The hardest part was that we didn’t know what was coming up next so we couldn’t really prepare ourselves.”
He said that they would be told to ruck march to one location, where they would get information for the next task and would then ruck march to that location. His favorite part of the competition wasn’t any of the events but the little down time they had to talk to other teams.
“Staff Sgt. Gowan was a great motivator and a wealth of knowledge, and I don’t think that I could’ve asked for a better leader in this competition,” Haider said.
Brig. Gen. David D. Phillips, who is the commandant of the Military Police Corps, said that the 114 military police officers who competed were the best of the best in the country. When the results were tallied, the North Dakota team placed 20th out of the 39 teams competing during the Guardsmen’s first-ever attempt at the competition.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,800 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 225 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that’s more than four times the national average.
High-resolution photos to accompany this release are available on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ndguard/sets/72157628076915594/.