Military police

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The Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command providing security coverage at the Padang in Singapore during the National Day Parade in 2000.

Military police (MPs) are the police of a military organization.

Military police are concerned with law enforcement (including criminal investigation) on military property and concerning military personnel, installation security, close personal protection of senior military officers, management of prisoners of war, management of military prisons, traffic control, route signing and resupply route management. Not all military police organizations are concerned with all of these areas, however.

These personnel are generally not front-line combatants but, especially when directing military convoys, will be at or close to the front line. Some MPs, such as the US MP Corps, are used as the primary defense force in rear area operations.

In some countries, a military police force, generically known as a gendarmerie, although there are a variety of other names, 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. This gendarmerie may or may not also function as a military police force within the armed forces. In most countries, military police who are not members of gendarmerie forces do not have police powers over civilians except while on military property.

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.

Naval police are sometimes called masters-at-arms.

Military police in different countries

Australian Army Land Rover and two Military Police motorcycles


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


The Kommando Militärstreife & Militärpolizei ("Commando Military Patrol & Military Police") of the Austrian Bundesheer was founded in 2007. The Commando is also responsible for the military police training. The duties are personal security of high ranking officers, policing of military personnel and traffic control of military transports. The military police is called within the Austrian border Militärstreife ("Military Patrol"), when it is deployed abroad the Militärstreife is renamed in Militärpolizei ("Military Police").


The Belgian Army's Military Police Group (Groupe Police Militaire in French, Groep Militaire Politie in Dutch) performs military police duties on behalf of all four components of the Belgian military. The group is headed by a lieutenant colonel and has 188 members in five MP detachments.

The Military Police Group staff is located in the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in the Brussels suburb of Evere. Alpha Detachment located at Evere covers the province of Flemish Brabant and the capital, Brussels. Bravo Detachment covers the Walloon Brabant, Hainaut and Namur areas and is located at Nivelles. Charlie Detachment located at Marche-en-Famenne covers the Liege and Luxembourg areas. Delta Detachment covers the Limbourg and Antwerp areas and is located at Leopoldsburg. Echo Detachment located at Lombardsijde covers Western and Eastern Flanders.

The Military Police force carries out the following missions:

  • Maintenance of order and discipline: Consists of monitoring, maintaining and, if necessary, re-establishing discipline and military order. This also involves controlling stragglers and refugees in times of war and guarding and escorting prisoners of war.
  • Traffic regulation: Includes traffic monitoring and regulation to ensure the flow of military movements in accordance with plans. This includes route reconnaissance and marking, convoy and oversize vehicle escort and river crossing control.
  • Security missions: Prevents and deters any threat to or attack against the personnel and property of the armed forces. The Military Police force protects, for example, the Palace of the Nation and the Parliaments and Councils of the Regions and the Communities, headquarters and classified conferences. MPs also provide VIP motorcycle escorts and honour guards, perform close protection missions, and escort classified documents and money transports.

The Belgian Military Police has also taken part in multinational peacekeeping missions such as Afghanistan, Kosovo and Congo. The Federal Police’s Military Crime Division (DJMM) performs all investigations involving the armed forces.

In 2003, duties relating to refugees and deserters in wartime were transferred from the then disbanded Gendarmerie Nationale to the MPs. Members of the former 4 and 6 MP Companies were merged into the new MP Group, along with some Gendarmes previously assigned MP-related duties.

Belgian MPs are identified by black armbands with the letters MP in white block letters, worn on the left arm.


Brazil has two types of military police.

Each state in Brazil has a Polícia Militar (PM). These are uniformed gendarmerie forces in charge of patrolling and preventing crime and consist in the state police forces. They are structured in the same way as the military forces and, up to the early 1960s, some states' military police were even equipped with tanks and artillery. They can be called upon as a Military Reserve by the Federal Military Forces in the event of war. The civil police (Polícia Civil) is in charge of criminal investigation.

Each of the Brazilian Armed Forces also has its own military police force: Polícia do Exército (PE) in the Army, Polícia da Marinha (SP) in the Navy, and Polícia da Aeronaútica (PA) in the Air Force.


Shoulder Patch of CF Police

Canadian Forces military police functions are currently carried out by the Canadian Forces Military Police. The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service handles investigations.

The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal is the head of the military police in Canada.

Prior to the amalgamation of Canada's Army, Navy and Air Force into the unified Canadian Forces in 1968, separate service branches had performed military police functions independently: the Canadian Provost Corps and the Royal Canadian Air Force Police.

The roles of the military police in Canada are separated into two main groups. The first group is Garrison Operations, which includes activities such as investigations and patrols. The second group is operational support in combat operations, such as POW convoy escorts, VIP's close protection, and route reconnaissances. The main tasks for the reserve companies are the Operational tasks, while the regular force concentrates their training on the "Garrison" tasks.

The Canadian Military police all wear a red beret regardless of their attachment to the maritime, land or air command. They also wear a brassard on the left arms with bilingual writing: MILITARY POLICE MILITAIRE.


Unlike military police in many other countries, the Republic of China Military Police (中華民國憲兵; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Mínguó Xiànbīng) are a separate branch of the ROC Armed Forces. The ROCMP are responsible for enforcing military law, maintaining military discipline, providing backup for the civilian police force or serving as combat troops during times of emergency, providing security for certain government buildings, including the Presidential Building in Taipei City, as well as performing counter-terrorism and VIP protection operations. The ROCMP are also charged with the defense of the capital Taipei.


Danish navy military police

In Denmark the military police (Danish: militærpoliti) services are carried out by branches under each service. The navy and army each have their own military police branch. The airforce does not have a military police branch as such but has an installation guard branch (Danish: stationselementet), and a combat support wing which handles military police duties in either national or international tasks. Furthermore the home guard has a police branch, which supports both the civilian Danish police and the military police.

Typical MP-jobs are:

  • Installation/perimeter guard
  • Personel protection
  • Traffic control
  • Courier services
  • Prisoner transport


The Sotilaspoliisi (literally, "Soldier Police") are the military police of the Finnish Defence Forces. The Finnish MPs carry a black armband on the left shoulder with the letters 'SP' in white. A military policeman is usually armed with a 9 mm pistol, a baton, pepper spray and handcuffs on his belt. The military police includes both career and conscript personnel, and is primarily used to guard military installations and supervise military traffic. All military police personnel are trained with basic police techniques and usually receive training for fighting in urban areas. The military police have power over civilians only inside military areas and installations. However, a military police patrol may stop a crime that it witnesses in process in a civilian area. Additionally if a military police unit is near to a serious crime taking place, such as a robbery or an assault, and the civilian police are delayed, a military police unit that is near to the scene can offer to handle the situation until the civilian police arrive.

As with some other Finnish Defence Forces units, the military police can be used to provide assistance to the civilian police when they are undermanned or lack special resources. In such case, the military police may take measures which the civilian police deems necessary. For example, during the 2005 Helsinki World Athletic Championship Games, military police conscripts and career personnel were placed along the marathon route to prevent the large numbers of spectators from obstructing the runners. In the event of a national emergency the military police would be deployed and given limited police powers over civilians depending on the scale of the emergency[citation needed].

The crimes committed by military personnel are, as a rule, investigated by the military. Minor infractions are usually investigated by the career personnel of the unit, while more serious crimes are investigated by the investigative section of the General Staff of the Finnish Defence Forces. In minor matters, the company commander or his superiors may use disciplinary powers, but more serious cases are deferred to the civilian prosecutor who will take the case to the district court. In military cases, the district court and superior courts include military members in addition to the professional judge. Officers with at least major's rank have privilegium fori to have their cases tried by the Court of Appeals as a court of first instance.


French gendarme on MP duty inside a multinational force (note the MP armband)

The Gendarmerie Nationale acts as both the military police and one of the two national police forces of France. The Gendarmerie Navale (also called the Gendarmerie Maritime) polices the Navy (and also acts as a coast guard and water police force) and the Gendarmerie de l'Air polices the Air Force; both are branches of the Gendarmerie Nationale.

A Military Police NCO from Guatemala.

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During World War II, Germany had numerous military police units. The primary units were the Feldgendarmerie, which comprised members of the Gendarmerie. Other units included the Army Patrol Service (Heerestreifendienst), the Train Station Guards (Bahnhofwache), and the Feldjägerkorps.

The Feldjäger are the current military police of the German Bundeswehr. The term Feldjäger ("field rifleman" or "field hunter") has a long tradition and dates back to the mid-17th century. They are especially notorious for hunting down deserting conscripts[citation needed]. Their motto is Suum Cuique ("To each his own", derived from Cicero, De Finibus, Bonorum et Malorum, liber V, 67: "(...) ut fortitudo in laboribus periculisque cernatur, (...), iustitia in suo cuique tribuendo.").


The Corps of Military Police (CMP) is the military police of the Indian Army. In addition, the CMP is trained to handle prisoners of war and to regulate traffic, as well as to handle basic telecommunication equipment such as telephone exchanges. They can be identified by their red berets, white lanyards and belts, and they also wear a black brassard with the letters "MP" imprinted in red.

Internal policing duties in a regiment (or a station) are handled by the Regimental Police, who are soldiers of the unit who are assigned to policing tasks for a short period of time. They are essentially used to regulate traffic, and can be identified by a black brassard with the letters "RP" embossed in gold or white.

The Indian Air Force is policed by the Indian Air Force Police. They can be identified by their white peaked caps, white lanyards and belts (with a pistol holster). They also wear a black brassard with the letters "IAFP" imprinted in red.

The Indian Navy has the Navy Police, and they can be identified by a black brassard with the letters "NP" in gold, with the state emblem placed in between the N and the P.


The Irish Military Police (colloquially “PA”s, deriving from the official title, Polini Airm) are responsible for the prevention and detection of crime in the Irish Defence Forces. Entry to the PA is restricted to serving members of the Defence Forces. All members of the Corps are NCOs, with Officers being transferred in for temporary assignments. Unlike many Military Police Services, they retain responsibility for the controlling access to many, but not all, military posts. In addition they provide a military detachment to the Oireachtas (Houses of Parliament) and have a large ceremonial role. In the past they had a role in training armed elements of the Garda Siochana but in recent times this has decreased. Historically, they were responsible for detaining political prisoners in Military Prisons (until the handing over of Military Prisons at Cork, Spike Island, Arbour Hill and the Curragh to the Civil Authorities) and on occasion providing firing squads for executions (most recently during the “Emergency” period of 1939-1946).


The Heyl HaMishtara HaTzva'it ("Military Police Force") is the military police of the Israel Defense Forces. It also helps monitor prisons, both those containing Israeli soldiers and Palestinian detainees.


The Carabinieri is a gendarmerie force which acts as both the military police and one of the three national police forces in Italy. The Guardia di Finanza also has some military police duties.


During World War II, the Kempeitai were the military police of the Imperial Japanese Army and the Tokeitai were the military police of the Imperial Japanese Navy. They also performed intelligence and secret police functions and were active in Japan and its occupied territories.

The Japan Self-Defense Forces maintain military police units.


The Kor Polis Tentera DiRaja (Royal Military Police Corps) performs military police duties in the Malaysian Army. Apart from enforcing discipline and conduct of members of the Army, the Corps oversees security of designated Army installations, performs escort and ceremonial duties, and assists civil law enforcement authorities. The Kor Polis Tentera is also tasked with crime prevention and investigating criminal activities on Army property or by military personnel.

With its roots in the British Royal Military Police, members of the Kor Polis Tentera DiRaja also wear the distinctive red peaked cap, white lanyard and belt, as well as a black brassard with the letters "PT" imprinted. PT stands for "Polis Tentera" with "Polis" being the Malay translation for "Police" while "Tentera" being the Malay translation for "Mlitary".


Evolution of Military Policing

During the Cold War the approach of NATO to military policing was to provide Military Police support to National Forces in terms of:[1]

Traffic Control,
Military Security, and
Law & Order.

Post cold war, this has now evolved into:

Mobility Support,
Policing, and

Approaches to military policing within NATO

There are generally three types of military police within NATO Forces

  • United States - MP led battle groups complete with artillery and cavalry assets
  • France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Portugal - Gendarmerie para-military police forces
  • UK, Germany, Norway, Denmark - Traditional MP


In the Netherlands, the function of military police is performed by the Koninklijke Marechaussee ("Royal Constabulary"), a separate branch of the military independent of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Besides performing military duties, the Marechaussee is also a gendarmerie force.

The word Marechaussee seems to derive from the old French name Marecheaux given to an ancient court of justice in Paris 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 the Netherlands. The term Marechaussee was also used for the Continental Army's military police during the American Revolution.

New Zealand

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In the New Zealand Army, the Corps of Royal New Zealand Military Police only recruits internally, with applications only being accepted from personnel who have served for at least two years. MPs may be either career soldiers or from the Territorial Army (part-time soldiers).

The Royal New Zealand Air Force recruits directly for Air Security Guards, who carry out military police functions and are responsible for providing security as well as ground defence training and drill/ceremonial training for other RNZAF Staff.

The Royal New Zealand Navy, like the Army, does not recruit directly into their "police" branch. Instead, personnel of a certain rank and time-in-service may apply for the Master-At-Arms trade. Security of shore bases is the responsibility of New Zealand Defence Force civilian security personnel.

At all NZDF facilities, civilian staff are used to augment military police manpower, particularly for relatively simple tasks like ID checking and security patrols. This allows the MPs to concentrate on the more complex and specialised tasks within their areas of responsibility, such as criminal investigation. Many former servicemen and women find employment as Civil Security Guards at NZDF establishments and this helps keep their expertise in-house.


In Norway, military police are service members of the Norwegian Army, Royal Norwegian Navy or Royal Norwegian Air Force. Since about 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 Lieutenant Colonel Vidar Gade. The battalion consists of approximately 50 officers and NCOs, and 150 privates and corporals. Norwegian MPs first go through a six-month selection/educational period, before being assigned to the battalion or to regimental duties with other units for the remainder of their twelve-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 Heimevernet ("Home Guard") also has MPs in its ranks. Usually each District (regiment) has one or two platoons, consisting exclusively of former regular or conscript military police 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 letters. 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.

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.

MPs have no power over civilians except inside military installations. More serious cases, like narcotics, are handed over to civilian police for investigation.


The Philipines Armed Forces each maintain their own military police.

The former Philippine Constabulary was also knwn as the Military Police Command


In Portugal, each branch of the armed forces has its own military police force. The Portuguese Navy has the Polícia Naval (Naval Police), the Portuguese Army has the Polícia do Exército (Army Police), and the Portuguese Air Force has the Polícia Aérea (Air Police). The Air Police is an Arm of its own inside the Air Force, but the Army Police is only a speciality of the Cavalry Arm and the Naval Police is a speciality of the Marines Arm. The Navy also has a civil police force, the Polícia dos Estabelecimentos da Marinha (Navy Facilities Police), with the responsibility of guarding the Lisbon Naval Base and some other naval facilities.

File:Romanian MP humvee.jpg
A Humvee of the Romanian Military Police


In Romania, the Romanian Military Police (Poliţia Militară) serves as the military police of the Romanian Armed Forces. It usually handles military security and military crimes and it has national jurisdiction. The Romanian military police is organized in four battalions (2 of them are headquartered in Bucharest, one in Iaşi and one in Târgu Mureş).


The Serbian Gendarmerie are the official Military Police force of Serbia. Military Police force are one of the best qualified and most combat-prepared organizations within the Army. Military Police responsibilities include combating special forces of the enemy and counter-rebellion and counter terrorist actions, stamping out organized crime and corruption, securing people and facilities, search actions, anti-terrorist tasks, and others.

Specific training is provided for members of special units of the Military Police, as well as for members of "general" and traffic Military Police. Drills for Military Police units, from squad to battalion, are based on their anticipated tactical employment, including the training in putting down civil disorder. The Security Directorate of the General Staff of the Army of Serbia is responsible for overseeing the units of the Military Police.

Sri Lanka

Each of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces has its own military police/Provost branch. The Sri Lanka Army is policed by the Sri Lanka Corps of Military Police and by Regimental Police, who belong to each individual regiments or corps.

The Military Police force carries out the following missions:

  • Maintenance of order and discipline: Consists of monitoring, maintaining and, if necessary, re-establishing discipline and military order. This also involves controlling stragglers and refugees in times of war and guarding and escorting prisoners of war.
  • Security missions: Prevents and deters any threat to or attack against the personnel and property of the armed forces. MPs also provide VIP motorcycle escorts and honour guards, perform close protection missions, and escort classified documents and money transports.

The Sri Lanka Navy is policed by the Provost_Branch. The Sri Lanka Air Force is policed by the Air Force Police (Sri Lanka) (AFP).


In Singapore, the Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command serves as the law enforcement agency of the Singapore Armed Forces. The Command is headed by a Colonel, otherwise also known as the Provost Marshal. Its sub-units included the Military Police Enforcement Unit (including Special Investigations Branch and the ceremonial and drill components), the Detention Barracks (DB), The 1st Provost Bn, MP Training School and the Security Support Forces (including Military working Dog Wing, Close Protection and Security Ops Unit). The Command also collaborates closely with the Singapore Police Force in terms of policing work duties, investigations, etc.


In Thailand, each branch of the armed forces has its own military police force. The Royal Thai Navy has the สารวัตรทหารเรือ (Naval Military Police) , the Royal Thai Army has the สารวัตรทหาร (Army Military Police), and the Royal Thai Air force has the สารวัตรทหารอากาศ (Air Force Military Police).

Air Military Police Department กรมทหารสารวัตรทหารอากาศ

The duties of the military police are peacekeeping, securing, regulating the traffic discipline within the Air Force installations and housing area, tackling illegal objects including deserted officers and runaway accusers, escorting VIPs and investigating crimes which are under the authority of the Military Court. These investigations include prisoners of war, enemy aliens, refugees and displaced officers within the Air Force and designated areas. It is under supervision of the Commander of the Air Military Police Department.

There is one active Air MP Battalion called the Battalion of Military Air Police (กองพันทหารสารวัตรทหารอากาศ). The Air Military Police Department is one unit under the supervision of the Office of Don Muang RTAF Base Commander (สำนักงานผู้บังคับทหารอากาศดอนเมือง).

- Office of Don Muang RTAF Base Commander : สำนักงานผู้บังคับทหารอากาศดอนเมือง
- Air Military Police Department : กรมทหารสารวัตรทหารอากาศ
- Battalion of Military Air Police กองพันทหารสารวัตรทหารอากาศ

[1] : [2] : [3]


The larger Turkish Gendarmerie (Jandarma Genel Komutanlığı), one of the five branches of the Turkish Armed Forces, is responsible for maintaining law and order in rural areas which do not fall under the jurisdiction of regular police forces. The Military Police (Askeri İnzibat) or (As.Iz.) are part of the Turkish Gendarmerie and constitute a very small dedicated force which handles military security and military crimes.

United Kingdom

Each of the British Armed Forces has its own military police branch. The British Army is policed by the Royal Military Police (RMP) (often known as "Redcaps") and by Regimental Police, who belong to each individual regiments or corps. The Royal Air Force is policed by the Royal Air Force Police (RAFP). They are nicknamed "Snowdrops" on account of their white caps as opposed to the normal Royal Air Force blue. The Royal Navy is policed by the 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 platoon-sized Police Troop, the Royal Marines Police.

Each of the four agencies has its own Special Investigation Branch (SIB) to undertake investigation of more serious crime and plain-clothes investigations. All British military police are classed as Service Police and conform to the Service Police Codes of Practice. The British military prison at Colchester is operated by the Military Provost Staff Corps, an all-senior NCO corps which only recruits from serving personnel.

The Ministry of Defence Police is a civilian police force which also operates on Ministry of Defence property and has full police powers over civilians as well as service personnel.

United States

The Military Police Corps maintains discipline and enforces the law in the United States Army. The Marine Corps version is referred to as the Provost Marshal's Office, while personnel assigned to the Master-at-Arms branch fill the same role in the United States Navy, (aided by temporary members of the Shore Patrol). The United States Air Force is policed by the Air Force Security Forces, formerly called the Security Police (and before that, the Air Police).

Each service also maintains uniformed civilian police departments. They are referred to as Department of Defense, or DoD Police. These service police fall under each directorate they work for within the United States Department of Defense, for example: DoD Army or DoD Navy Police. There is in fact one supreme United States Department of Defense police agency. The United States Pentagon Police are the police force of the Secretary of Defense and the federal police force for the U.S. Department of Defense in its entirety including The Pentagon and various other DoD locations within the National Capital Region (NCR). Department of Defense Guard, Department of the Army (DA) Police, or Department of the Army Guard are examples of other DoD Army police. The police officers' peacetime duties are the same as those of civilian police officers, namely to enforce the laws of the United States military in the form of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and the regulations of their particular installation. The civilian guards' duties are normally restricted to protection of priority resources.

Criminal investigation in the United States Armed Forces is carried out by separate agencies: The Marine Corps And Navy Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) (a civilian agency); the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI); the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID), with unit-level investigations conducted by Military Police Investigators (MPI); and the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS). The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) is a civilian agency that answers directly to the DOD as well as the Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA).

The United States Constabulary was a gendarmerie force used to secure and patrol the American Zone of West Germany immediately after World War II.

Military Police are trained to provide area security, usually by vehicle patrol, which is the mission of most Military Police stationed in Iraq. They are also trained in dealing with prisoners of war and other detainees, with special training in restraining, searching, and transporting prisoners to detainee camps. MPs can also be used as prison guards in said detainee camps, although that responsibility usually falls on Internment/Resettlement Specialists, MOS 31E (Formerly Corrections Specialists).

The Army's Military Police provide an important function in the full spectrum of Army operations. The Army's Military Police can be utilized in direct combat and during peacetime. The Military Police have five main functions:

1. Maneuver and mobility support operations
2. Area security operations
3. Law and order operations
4. Internment and resettlement operations
5. Police intelligence operations

These five functions of the Army's Military Police all provide a commander with the necessary information and support for the successful completion of many Army missions.

The Military Police Corps has four career paths within the Army: 31A Military Police Officer 31B Military Police 31D Criminal Investigations Special Agent 31E Internment/Resettlement Specialist

See also


  1. ^ RMP Journal April 2007