Military Police - Army vs. Navy

I am considering joining the military and at this point I am pretty sure I want to be an MP in the army or an Master at Arms in the Navy, the reason for this post is to help me get a better idea of which branch is better suited to what I want to do.

Primarily I would like to know from some of the people on this board who have been in the navy what exactly I would do as an MA.

Secondly I would appreciate any views directly consrasting the differences between the two specialties.

I know I am kind of mixing IMHO in with GQ with the second bit but I don’t think this really warents two seprate threads.


Certainly I am no expert (especially on all things Navy), but the Army military police come in three flavors. ‘White Hat’ MPs do normal police stuff on Army bases. Speeding tickets, domestic disturbances, all the stuff you would see anywhere in America.

When they go overseas, they throw away the white hats and do stuff much more like soldiers. They guard prisoner, advise allied police forces, escort supply convoys and all that. This is of course not so related to Stateside police work. Understand clearly that MPs are not a rear-area kind of thing. They get shot at and they shoot back.

We also have Surety MPs. They guard ‘sensitive installations,’ which is to say nukes. Boredom upon boredom.

Then there are the Prison Guards. In the Good Old Days these guys rotated between Leavenworth and the Korean and German jail-houses. Good duty, and very transferable to civilian applications. Of course there is this war on now, so I suppose they are in a lot of demand.

Navy MA rating.

Anecdotal MP description.

I’m not sure how long you have to enlist in the Navy, but to be an MP in the Army the minimum enlistment time is 4 or 5 years, which might be something you’d want to consider.


You might help the Dope help you if you outlined your career plans.
Do you plan on being a career MP?
Do you have post-service plans?
Law enforcement, corrections, private duty?

I have a friend who did something like this in the National Guard, until he was honorably discharged earlier this year. He said it was the height of boredom.

As a Navy MA, every so often you will organize hundreds/thousands of people to line up without notice and supervise their peeing into little plastic cups. With experience, you will be able to do this during rough weather without spilling any on yourself.

Unless times have changed, MA’s have seperate berthing quarters. On the old USS Tripoli, the entire bulkheas, except for the compartment identification “bullseye,” was reconfigured to hold shelving for hundreds of pornos.

I can fairly well explain the differences between the Air Force “MPs”.

You’ve got two sides of the coin: Law Enforcement, and Force Protection.

LE: The typical “downtown police” function, as in interacting with the community for traffic control, domestic disputes in base housing, accident reports, parking enforcement, shoplifting, gate security, and general “community policing”. I think of these guys as your typical day-to-day “beat cop”.

FP: The ‘gunslingers’ that defend the assets and base proper. These guys and gals are the ones that defend the missile field, that ride around the base perimeter, that keep the flightline secure, that defend the weapons storage areas. I think of these guys as those that defend the assets we have, as the “Marines of the Air Force” should someone try to get to a Minuteman or bomber.

They’re both Security Forces guys and gals, but from what I’ve observed (and heard from SF Officers), there’s two different philosophies.

I’d rather not be stopped by either, thankyouverymuch. Them’s some tough SOBs.

To elaborate a bit more on my personal situation:

I am currently 17 and have one more year of highschool. I want to persue a career in civilian law enforcment, but that is really hard to do coming right out o high school or even college. My plan is to join the military after highschool so I can get experience in law enforcment and pay for college and then after I get out I should be old enough that with military experience I can get a job as a cop.

Thanks everyone for the replies.

I have to say, “Good on Ya!” for having a good plan for yourself!

You’ll never beat the educational benefits of the military. I know a lot of guys that got their Bachelor’s while enlisted, and used their G.I. Bill for post-grad education. But talk to all of the recruiters. See what they have to offer for you.

Just make sure you talk to all of them, and weigh your options and wants.

Then you should consider the Coast Guard. The CG is a military branch, with all the MGIB benefits of the other services. One of our primary missions is law enforcement, and that mission is expanding at a record rate with all the new security regulations coming into effect. In fact, we do more law enforcement than anything else.

As a non-rate out of boot camp you can qualify as a “boarding team member”, which enables you to conduct boardings as part of a team, but you won’t have any legal authority at that point. (provided you’re at an operational unit - cutter, station, sector etc) Once you become an E4, or Petty Officer, you are a federal law enforcement officer, with all the authority that goes along with it*, and are eligible to become a “boarding officer”. There are no enlisted ratings (specialties) that are excluded from working in law enforcement, although some rates rarely do it, and some rates do it all the time. The USCG is an excellent stepping stone for members wishing to pursue civilian law enforcement at any level. Let me know if you have any questions, or e-mail if you’d like.

I’m not a recruiter - I’ll give you the Straight Dope.

*While the law states E4s are LE officers, internal policies mandate specific qualifications which may be obtained through schools or on the job training.

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