During the conduct of Exercise Hamel 2018 the 1st Military Police Battalion (1 MP Bn) provided close support to the 7th Combat Brigade. During this period, elements of Delta Company (D Coy) were embedded into each of the battlegroups in order to provide close MP support and test a range of developing capabilities. One of these was intelligence-enabled law enforcement operations, or simply law enforcement intelligence (LE Int).
Following the clearance of the township of Raspberry Creek, which was supported by MPs and military police dogs, D Coy provided population support with the establishment of a MP presence within the town in support of the host nation police. As part of this support, MPs conducted operations in order to identify and target criminal elements in the tactical area of responsibility (TAOR) and assisted local authorities to re-establish rule of law, thus practising and testing the LE Int capability.
LE Int is an integral factor in effective modern day policing. It is a concept that has been developing over the past 30 years in security and law enforcement agencies at all levels around the world, ranging from state and territory, through to international, law enforcement organisations.
While the LE Int concept is similar in many ways to traditional military intelligence practices, the focus of LE Int is primarily directed against a criminal or unconventional threat and the collection of evidence. This is in contrast to the more traditional military intelligence practice which focuses on conventional forces within the battlespace. The release and application of the Decisive Action Threat Environment (DATE) as an adversary for the conduct of training (used for the first time during Hamel 18) brought MPs to the forefront of countering the criminal threat.
The LE Int cell was established as part of the D Coy Headquarters located at Raspberry Creek. Their role was to provide actionable LE Int to conventional MP and other force elements in the TAOR, with the primary focus on identifying local criminal networks and linking illicit activity with insurgent networks. The purpose of this was to enable proactive LE effects to be generated, and enable the effective targeting of suspected (and known) criminal networks and locations.
Meeting the intended outcomes was reliant on the efficient and meticulous collection of information and evidence using 1 MP Bn’s tactical forensics capability, as well as the effective and legitimate arrest and questioning of persons of interest (POI). Information and evidence collected was then subjected to further exploitation and analysis in order to provide commanders with up-to-date and correct intelligence products. This process was also supported by information gathered by military intelligence personnel.
During the conduct of the LE phase, MPs responded to a multitude of events such as: reports of local gangs harassing friendly forces; the recovery of stolen equipment; investigations of sexual assault; homicides; and the discovery of a mass grave site that required the collection of evidence and information. Throughout this phase of the exercise, the intelligence picture developed and resulted in a report on a network of POIs operating within the township. Using this information, MP elements were able to target these networks, disrupt illicit activities and make legitimate arrests.
One of the common challenges faced in training activities is finding the appropriate balance between ‘realism’ and timing constraints. This was noted as a particular challenge for the LE Int cell due to the speed at which the exercise progressed and the vast amount of scenarios that were conducted. This resulted in severe time constraints being placed on the production and dissemination of intelligence products, thus affecting the overall quality of the products and potential training value to be gained.
Despite these challenges and the exercise constraints, once the LE Int cell was established it successfully provided regular and reliable intelligence products through the military intelligence chain to commanders. This resulted in MP force elements conducting successful LE operations and highlighted the importance of having an intelligence-enabled LE capability. With further training and development, the LE Int cell will provide a substantial force multiplier effect that will enhance deployed MP LE capabilities in ever-changing and evolving operating environments, particularly against potentially militarised criminal threats.
About the author: Ramon Harvey is a Military Police General Duties junior non-commissioned officer posted to D Coy, 1 MP Bn. He has completed the Introduction to Defence Intelligence Course and the Defence Intelligence Research and Analysis Course.