Military Police Soldiers arriving at Fort Leonard Wood for One Station Unit Training are being introduced to their chosen profession earlier in training, and Army officials said the practice is proving to be more motivational and beneficial than previous methods to welcome trainees to the Army.
The 14th Military Police Brigade calls the new event Operation Hammer Drop, which replaces the old “shark attack” method and takes place following controlled monitoring early during Red Phase training, ideally on Training Day 1. Leaders see this event as a positive alternative that will serve to motivate and inspire, and will give the new Soldiers something to look forward to in the Advanced Individual Training phase of OSUT.
Col. Robert Arnold, 14th MP Brigade commander, said Operation Hammer Drop is designed with three phases. The first is the demonstration phase, where new Soldiers are shown various aspects of MP capabilities and get to watch events like a felony traffic stop, special reaction team drill, Military Working Dogs and a tactical patrol with a medical evacuation.
“They come in to be MPs, so we want to give them something that’s inspirational,” Arnold said. “There’s going to be a wow factor. It’s motivational, it’s inspirational, it's cool.”
The second phase is hands on and includes interactive displays of tactical and law enforcement vehicles as well as various weapons systems. For Company B, 787th MP Battalion Soldiers, there was also an opportunity to hear from CID agents and ask questions.
The third phase is team building, and each iteration so far has included different aspects with the goal of bringing the Soldiers together to learn more about each other, the MP Corps and the Army.
“With those three phases we no longer use fear — the shock and awe of what used to be the ‘shark attack,’” Arnold said. “We are now using positive, shared experiences to build more resiliency and more cohesion.”
Staff Sgt. Mario Coronado, a drill sergeant assigned to Company B, 787th MP Bn., said the positives from Operation Hammer Drop are apparent, even after only conducting one.
“This is year two for me (as a drill sergeant) and the old school Red Phase was hard core,” he said. “After actually conducting a Hammer Drop, I do think it is going to be good, because now they get to see what the MP Corps is all about before they start training.”
For two new Company B Soldiers, Operation Hammer Drop was exactly what leadership intended.
“(Operation Hammer Drop) is definitely an inspirational and motivating tool,” said Spc. Jonay Aiken. “Our training here can get a little rough sometimes, and it definitely gave me something to look forward to.”
Spc. Samantha Real said her motivation level was at a 10 because Operation Hammer Drop provided insight into what the new Soldiers will be doing as MPs.
Company B was only the fourth in the brigade to conduct an Operation Hammer Drop, but Arnold said they will continue to evolve and improve the program as more are conducted.