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Pvt. Derek Trujillo and Spc. Ernest Larabee of the 545th Military Police Company check off items during an equipment layout at Buckner Physical Fitness Center Feb. 9 as the unit prepared to depart for the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

photo by 2nd Lt. Jared Budenski/545th Military Police Company

Pvt. Derek Trujillo and Spc. Ernest Larabee of the 545th Military Police Company check off items during an equipment layout at Buckner Physical Fitness Center Feb. 9 as the unit prepared to depart for the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.


NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER, Calif. The "First Team's Finest" is once again training for war. 

After being reactivated in August 2008, Fort Richardson's 545th Military Police Company began preparing for possible deployment. The unit is now heading for Iraq, but its first stop was at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., where its Soldiers are training and being certified in the many aspects of their downrange mission through April 5. 

The Soldiers arrived at NTC March 5, where they have since been living and training alongside the Army National Guard's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team from Clinton, N.C.

The 545th MPs prepared nonstop for their training at NTC. A recent inspection of the gear Soldiers carried to the training site, and will ultimately take to Iraq, presented an opportunity for some of the new Soldiers to interact with their team leaders.

As each platoon and section got ready, the equipment had to be packed, inspected and certified to make sure it was safe to be transported by sea. The 545th MPs spent many hours packing equipment with bubble wrap, cardboard and wooden supports to make sure there was no metal-on-metal contact or loose or unsecured equipment shipped. 

Sgt. Jonathon Pion of 2nd Platoon said he believes training never stops no matter where a Soldier goes.

"I am looking forward to the training," he said.

In preparation for NTC, Soldiers of 1st Platoon developed a training program that concentrated on becoming familiar with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear tasks; hand-arm signals; reacting to unexploded ordinance; map reading; and land navigation.

One training goal was to put Soldiers in the mindset of operating as a team, while preparing vehicles and weapons systems also provided them with valuable experience. 

"The (situational training exercise) was a good first step in deploying as a unit," said Spc. Kevin Kendall, 2nd Platoon.

At NTC, the focus is on improving individual and squad proficiency and operating mission-specific equipment. Platoon and company missions include live-fire proficiency and police transition team training.