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My Guard Life: Military Police

Staff Sergeant Edwin O’Bannon of the Kentucky National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 198th Military Police Battalion, on an MP’s broad range of duties, the career benefits of his job and working the Kentucky Derby.
SSG Edwin O’Bannon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 198th Military Police Battalion, Kentucky National Guard | Photo by Jonathan Palmer
SSG Edwin O’Bannon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 198th Military Police Battalion, Kentucky National Guard | Photo by Jonathan Palmer

On career longevity: “When I enlisted in the Guard in November of 2006, I wanted a career that could transfer into the civilian world, something with stability that would provide a long-term career. That’s why I became an MP, and being an MP is how I got my civilian job as a corrections officer. When you have military training in a specialty like this, all kinds of doors open for you.”

Deployment tasks: “I’ve been deployed twice, both times to Iraq. In our first mission, we trained Iraqi officers. The second mission was to provide security for truck drivers moving from north Iraq to the south.”

Conditioning: “Fitness matters, because MPs must maintain our physical appearance and endurance. Whether we’re breaking up bar fights on post or engaging with the bad guys overseas, you never know when you’re going to have to run, or for how long. Plus our gear can be really heavy.”

The gear: “Our duty belts contain two or three pairs of handcuffs, our duty weapon, our duty magazine, our baton, a radio, radio holder, flashlight and gloves for searching. I also carry a face shield, in the event I have to give CPR to someone who is unconscious. All of this you carry on your waist, and this doesn’t include the vest underneath your uniform.”

Expectations: “We are held to a high standard, because we enforce the standard. It’s our job to rise above the standard.”

On the job: “A day in the life of an MP could include kicking down a door of a house in a hostage situation, or ensuring the safety of a convoy traveling through enemy territory, making sure that they get to do their mission without additional worries. We maintain law and order on post, overseas and domestically. We 
do a lot of intelligence work and prepare two or three briefings a day. We also get to work with civilian police forces, such as when my unit provides security each year at the Kentucky Derby. It can be very entertaining being inside the infield at a horse race.”

Teamwork: “Women and men work alongside each other; this is one thing I love about the Military Police Corps. We’re not men and women out there; we are Soldiers, with missions to complete. It’s a great MOS [Military Occupational Specialty] for someone who wants to do something outside of more traditional jobs.”