July 30, 2012:
The U.S. Marine Corps is forming three Police Battalions. Each will have about 500 military police, dog handlers, crime investigators, and support staff. The composition and missions of the battalions are based on a century of marine experience with peacekeeping. The last decade has only confirmed lessons set down (by two marine officers) in the "Small Wars Manual" just before the U.S. entered World War II. Still a valuable source of practical advice on how to handle peacekeeping, the manual emphasized the need to provide security for the people and how that is best accomplished by showing people how to do it themselves. Thus the Police Battalions can restore order and security to an area, select and train local police, and collect information on local bad guys and their crimes. These battalions would also provide security for convoys, senior commanders, and local officials, as well as advising friendly military units on base security (using the Police Battalions knowledge of the local troublemakers). Guarding and interrogating prisoners is another job these battalions are being trained for.
The army and marines have been doing all this for a long time, although the marines have created a unique new type of police battalion. The U.S. Army has long had Civil Affairs Battalions (which belonged to the U.S. Army Special Forces), but these units concentrated on administration and organization of war-ravaged areas, leaving policing to combat troops. While the army has talked about forming peacekeeping police battalions, the marines were the first to do it. The army has long had Military Police battalions and brigades but none were formally modified for peacekeeping. That is slowly changing as the army realizes that there are likely to be peacekeeping operations to deal with in the near future. Moreover, the army military police gained a lot of experience in Iraq and Afghanistan doing what the new marine battalions are organized and trained for.