MEAD, Neb. — The new home of the 402nd Military Police Battalion was abuzz with activity this past weekend.
The Mead Atlas Readiness Center, located along County Road J southeast of Mead, was dedicated in July and is now regularly put to use for a variety of Nebraska National Guard training activities.
It is also the headquarters for the 402nd Military Police, a 144-member unit of full-time and traditional Guard that counts internment and resettlement among its general duties.
It won't be just the 402nd MP that will be using the armory. Maj. Dan Benes said other Guard units will also be benefiting from the new training center. Benes is one of the full-time guardsmen based at the Mead armory.
Some of those soldiers were on site this past weekend for a training activity.
On Sunday, the 195th Military Police Law and Order Detachment joined the 402nd for an MP challenge.
This was a skills contest with several purposes.
Benes said the winners from the battalion's MP challenge will advance to the Nebraska National Guard's Warrior competition.
“We trying to decide who our representatives will be,” he said.
The MP challenge was set up in round-robin fashion, with six separate stations awaiting the soldiers.
In front of one facility at the site, the MPs had to toss a mock grenade. The drill tested distance and accuracy, with a window and a trash can set up as targets.
In an area to the west of the Atlas Readiness Center, the MPs were tested on their knowledge of a Humvee and its maintenance. They had to find defects and determine whether the vehicle should be taken out of service.
At the same station, the MPs were tested on strength, agility and teamwork. Together the soldiers had to push the Humvee 100 feet forward and then 100 feet back into place.
Behind the facility, the next drill involved putting on a chemical and biohazards suit.
Benes said MPs have less than 8 seconds to get the gas mask on, followed by the rest of the suit.
Medical evaluation was another part of the MP challenge. Teams had to assess the injuries of a mock victim and prepare the victim for transport.
Assembling items in the field was another basic skill tested in the drills.
At one station, the soldiers had to assemble a weapon. In order to assemble three weapons, the teams had to sort through parts from four weapons.
At another station, teams had to put together a radio and prove it worked.
Benes said this was the first MP challenge the battalion has hosted. The battalion has had access to the training area in the past, but having the readiness center now makes this type of activity a little more convenient.
As the name suggests, the focus of any training at the facility will be on readiness.
“They need to have a ready response force to operate, which means greater expectations of readiness,” he said.
The Atlas Readiness Center, along with the Titan Readiness Center that is still under construction, sit on property once occupied by the Nebraska Ordnance Plant. Operations began during World War II and continued through the Cold War. The names of the facilities are references to the missiles formerly produced in the area.
The $10.8 million, nearly 48,000-square-foot facility has classrooms and conference space.
Benes said there are still some rooms that need to be fully equipped and a few adjustments to make, but overall the new facility is performing well.
“We are going through, working out some of the bugs,” he said. “But with a new facility, that always happens.”