Military police

From Academic Kids

Military police (MPs) are the police of a military organization, generally concerning themselves with law enforcement and security.

In wartime, military police are primarily concerned with installation security, close personal protection of senior military officers, management of prisoners of war, traffic control, route signing and resupply route management, as well as their primary policing roles. These personnel are generally not front-line combatants, but are sometimes used in a defensive role as a primary defense force in rear area operations.

In some countries, a military police force, the Gendarmerie, Carabinieri or Civil Guard, also serves as a national police force, often acting as heavy backup for the civil police and/or policing rural districts. For these duties, such forces are under civilian control and function in the same manner as civilian police forces.

The head of the military police is commonly referred to as the Provost Marshal. This ancient title was originally given to an officer whose duty it was to ensure that the army of the king did no harm to the citizenry.

In many countries, military forces have separate prisons and judicial systems, different from civilian entities. The military possibly also has its own interpretation of criminal justice.

The status of military police is usually prominently displayed on the helmet and/or on an armband, brassard, or arm or shoulder flash. In the Second World War, the military police of the German Army still used a metal gorget as an emblem.


Military police in different countries


In the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police also perform the role of a secondary communications network in the front battle zone.


Canadian Armed Forces military police functions are currently carried out by the Military Police Branch. Previous to the creation of the CAF in 1968 they were performed by separate service branches: the Canadian Provost Corps and the Royal Canadian Air Force Police.


The Gendarmerie act as both the military police and one of the two national police forces.


The Feldjäger are the military police of the German Bundeswehr. The term Feldjäger (literally meaning "field hunter") has a long tradition and dates back to the mid-17th century. They perform various police functions within the German Army, and are especially notorious for hunting down deserting conscripts. Their motto is Suum Cuique ("Each to his own").


The Carabinieri act as both the military police and one of the two national police forces.


The Kempeitai were the military police of the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. They also performed intelligence and secret police functions.

The Netherlands

The word Marechaussee seems to derive from an old French name given to an ancient court of justice in Paris, 1370, called the "Tribunal of Constables and Marshals of France". These constables and marshals were to become members of the Gendarmerie which served as a model for the police forces of both Belgium and Holland.


In Norway, MPs are service members of the Norwegian Army, Royal Norwegian Navy or Royal Norwegian Air Force. Since approx 2002, all are trained at Sessvollmoen Camp. MPs in the Army are assigned to the Military Police Battalion, located at Bardufoss, Troms county. The current battalion commander is Lt. Colonel Vidar Gade. The battalion consists of approximately 50 officers and NCOs, and 150 privates/corporals. Norwegian MPs first go through a 6 month selection/educational period, before beeing assigned to the battalion or to regimental duties with other units for the remainder of their 12 month service. Norwegian MPs do not have authority over civilians, except on military installations or under martial law. They do have authority over military personnel anywhere, including when such personnel are off duty.

The Norwegian National Guard (Heimevernet) also has MPs in its ranks. Usually each NNG District (regiment) has one or two platoons, consisting exclusively of former Army, Navy or Air Force MP personnel.

Norwegian MPs wear a red beret and a red lanyard around the left shoulder extending to the left front pocket. Only personnel currently serving as MPs are allowed to wear this. When on official duty, they also wear the MP armband, which is black with "MP" in red types. It was previously worn on the right shoulder, but is now worn on the left shoulder, following NATO practice. They can also wear white webbing, or a number of items for special duties, like high visibility vests for traffic duty etc.

Norwegian MPs are tasked with duties such as traffic control, POW detention and control, criminal investigations within the military, and installation security. Army canine units are also assigned to the MP battalion, but the personnel in such units are not necessarily MPs. Such personnel do not hold military police authority, and do not wear the MP insignia.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, MPs (often known as Redcaps) are members of the British Army's Royal Military Police (RMP). The Royal Air Force Police (RAFP) are often known as "Service Police" (SPs). The Royal Navy is policed by the Royal Navy Regulating Branch, the members of which are known as Regulators (or Master-at-Arms if a Chief Petty Officer or Warrant Officer). The Royal Marines also have a Police Troop, the Royal Marines Police. There also exist Regimental Police, who serve as Military Police in their units or where there is no MP presence.

United States of America

In the United States Armed Forces, MPs are service members of the US Army and US Marine Corps; the US Navy and US Coast Guard use the term Shore Patrol and Master at arms. The US Air Force uses the term Security Police, or SPs to describe the USAF Security Forces). Each service also maintains uniformed civilian security police officers. Their peacetime duties are the same as those of civilian police, namely to enforce the laws of the U.S. Military in the form of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and the regulations of their particular installation.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, MPs have been used extensively to maintain control over the large populations of detainees being held by coalition forces, as well as helping to conduct raids and regular patrols.

Some U.S. MP units, usually at the battalion or brigade level, are designated as combat MPs whose combat zone responsibilities include protection of vehicle routes, defile control, and straggler control, the guidance or detention of soldiers who have become lost, separated from their units, or have fled the battlefield.

U.S. Military Police are prohibited from enforcing civilian law, detaining civilians (except on military installations), or acting as part of an emergency police action (posse) by the Posse Comitatus Act, except as directed in conditions such as martial law. MPs are personally liable for breaching this act, but may still apprehend a civilian personally observed engaging in a criminal act, under his or her right of citizen's arrest.

In the U.S. Army, military police are usually distinguished by helmet markers or a white service cap as well as a brassard when on duty, as well as the wearing of a Sam Browne belt when under arms. When wearing a Class A (suit) uniform they wear combat boots instead of regulation low-cut shoes. In common with Airborne soldiers they may wear these boots off-duty as well. When in fatigues (work/combat uniform) they may be required or permitted to wear the green scarf identifying the Corps.

During the Second World War, the emblems used were a wide white band around the helmet, a white webbing Sam Browne belt, white gloves, and white gaiters, atop the standard olive drab uniform. From this clothing, the nickname they were given by the British civilians at the time was "snowdrops."

See also

he:משטרה צבאית ja:憲兵 no:Militærpoliti


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