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In wartime, military police are primarily concerned with installation security, close personal protection of senior military officers, management of prisoners of war, traffic control, route signing and resupply route management, as well as their primary policing roles. These personnel are generally not front-line combatants, but are sometimes used in a defensive role as a primary defense force in rear area operations.
In some countries, a military police force, the Gendarmerie, Carabinieri or Civil Guard , 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.
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.
Military police in different countries
In the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police also perform the role of a secondary communications network in the front battle zone.
The Military Police of the Canadian Armed Forces have full authority and powers over all citizens just as other Canadian police services.
The Feldjäger are the military police of the German Bundeswehr. The term Feldjäger (literally meaning "field hunter") has a long tradition and dates back to the mid-17th century. They perform various police functions within the German Army, and are especially notorious for hunting down deserting conscripts. Their motto is Suum Cuique ("Each to his own").
In the United Kingdom, MPs (often known as Redcaps) are members of the British Army's Royal Military Police (RMP). The Royal Air Force Police (RAFP) are often known as "Service Police" (SPs). The Royal Navy is policed by the Royal Navy 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 Police Troop, the Royal Marines Police.
United States of America
In the United States Armed Forces, MPs are service members of the US Army and US Marine Corps; the US Navy and US Coast Guard use the term Shore Patrol and Master at arms. The US Air Force uses the term Security Police, or SPs to describe the USAF Security Forces ). Each service also maintains uniformed civilian security police officers. Their peacetime duties are the same as those of civilian police, namely to enforce the laws of the U.S. Military in the form of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and the regulations of their particular installation.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, MPs have been used extensively to maintain control over the large populations of detainees being held by coalition forces, as well as helping to conduct raids and regular patrols.
Some U.S. MP units, usually at the battalion or brigade level, are designated as combat MPs whose combat zone responsibilities include protection of vehicle routes, defile control, and straggler control, the guidance or detention of soldiers who have become lost, separated from their units, or have fled the battlefield.
U.S. Military Police are prohibited from enforcing civilian law, detaining civilians(except on military installations), or acting as part of an emergency police action (posse) by the Posse Comitatus Act, except as directed in conditions such as martial law. MPs are personally liable for breaching this act, but may still apprehend a civilian personally observed engaging in a criminal act, under his or her right of citizen's arrest.
In the U.S. Army, military police are usually distinguished by helmet markers or a white service cap as well as a brassard when on duty, as well as the wearing of a Sam Browne belt when under arms. When wearing a Class A (suit) uniform they wear combat boots instead of regulation low-cut shoes. In common with Airborne soldiers they may wear these boots off-duty as well. When in fatigues (work/combat uniform) they may be required or permitted to wear the green scarf identifying the Corps.
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