News story

Ambush tests military police close protection skills

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Military police have had their close protection skills tested during a realistic training exercise on the streets of Colchester.

A simulated ambush was staged on Maldon Road this morning, 17 May, to test the 156 Provost Company Royal Military Police (RMP) close protection team.

A blast from a roadside bomb and heavy machine gun fire stopped a vehicle carrying an unsuspecting Brigadier Giles Hill, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Under smoke grenades and rifle fire from his military police escort, the Brigadier – known as ‘the principal’ in close protection terminology – was quickly taken out of the vehicle and into cover, and then to safety.

156 Provost Company Royal Military Police close protection team
Members of the 156 Provost Company Royal Military Police close protection team respond to the simulated threat [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]

Sergeant Rob Cotterill, who has done 4 close protection tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was the team’s second-in-command. He said:

The primary aim of close protection is to facilitate the safety of the principal, whether that person is an ambassador or a senior military officer.

In situations similar to this training we have to think and act together quickly to do what is needed – return fire, get the principal out of the vehicle and move him off to safety.

The training was intended to test the Colchester-based unit in their role providing policing support to 16 Air Assault Brigade, which maintains a force ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice for operations ranging from disaster relief to war-fighting.

Close protection team get the principal to safety
Members of the 156 Provost Company Royal Military Police close protection team get the principal to safety following a staged ambush in Colchester [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]

Major Dougie Hutchinson, Officer Commanding 156 Provost Company RMP, said:

It’s important that training is as realistic as possible for soldiers to gain the most benefit. This exercise was about both demonstrating our close protection capability to the Brigade Commander and keeping the skills of our soldiers sharp.

The RMP protect senior personnel from the military and other government departments worldwide, with threats most likely to happen when the principal is moving around in vehicles or entering and exiting buildings.