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Before World War II, military policing was not a defined branch of service. During World War I, there was no formalized training or tactics for military police, who were usually chosen for their size and quickness with batons. After the war, military police duty consisted of small units that directed traffic on and around military posts, plus a little crime prevention patrol. Selection to units was at the whim of the unit commander. There were some political attempts to formalize the training, but these all failed. With the Selective Service Act of 1940, the Army grew dramatically in size and the need to professionally police itself became a reality. It was a difficult undertaking since there were no manuals, no equipment, and no officers trained as military police.
The 701st Military Police Battalion, one of the first such battalions in the US Army, was activated at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, on 1 February 1941, with a cadre from the 1st and 20th Infantry Regiments. (1) Filled with draftees, the battalion was assigned to VII Corps to serve as internal security and zone of interior troops, thus releasing combat troops from that duty. As quickly as draftees were trained, they were sent out to train newly activated military police battalions. The troops had no outside civilian instructors, except for New York Police Department physical training instructors who demonstrated various restraint holds. (2)
Detachments from the 701st were sent to guard railroad stations in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, and to guard radio stations. Many German spies and sympathizers were operating on ham radios so the government ordered all ham radios to shut down. Ham radio transmissions were monitored from a radio-monitoring site in Nebraska. In January 1942, Bravo Company was temporarily detached to guard prisoners of war at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. In the summer of 1942, the remainder of the unit was sent to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, to serve as a demonstration battalion for the Provost Marshal General's School. This was the first military police school for training officers and enlisted men. By demonstrating the "how-tos" of military policing to newly activated units, the Military Police Branch benefited, and the battalion itself became more professional.
From its newly …