Military Police Unit Histories - Ft. Leonard Wood
By Capt. Anthony D. Zabek, USA
The 159th Military Police Battalion was originally constituted during World War II on August 30, 1944 as the 159th Military Police Service Battalion. Its mission was to keep supply lanes open to China and provide support to the British Fourteenth Army in India.
On September 5, 1944 the unit was activated at Chabua, India as a result of the War Department's inactivation of the 502d, 782d, and 792d Military Police Battalions. It was organized under the table of organization and equipment (TOE) 19-500.
During the war the 159th Military Police Battalion operated in the China-Burma theater, never seeing a city and never assembling as a battalion on one place. Battalion units were spread for five hundred miles along the Assam lone of communications leading to areas of conflict in China and Burma. The battalion received a campaign streamer for its participation in the Asiatic-Pacific theater and earned the name "the Burma Road Battalion".
It was comprised of the 167th MP Company, the 156th MP Guard Platoon, the 271st MP Company, the 152nd MP Company, and 269th MP Company. Its total authorized strength was 659 officers and enlisted soldiers.
The battalion headquarters and headquarters detachment was located near Chabua, collocated with the 167th MP Company. The 156th MP Guard Platoon was at the intermediate section No. 2 stockade north of Chabua. The facility was a military prison capable of housing a maximum of 150 prisoners.
The 271st MP Company was located to the east toward Ledo, India; and the 152nd MP Company was located to the west at Dibrugarh, a Brahmaputra River port and the largest town in the area. The 269th MP Company was located downriver at Gauhati, a railroad ferry transfer point on the Brahmaputra River.
The battalion commander, with the rank of brigadier general, also served as provost marshal at the intermediate section No. 2 stockade, and as a staff officer to the commanding general of the intermediate section No. 2 supply complex.
As a staff officer, he was responsible for attached MP companies temporarily in the area, K-9 scout dog units at ammunition supply points, Gurkha Guard detachments at installations, U.S. Negro provisional MP detachments, Chinese MP detachments, and prisoners at the stockade for a total of 1,250 soldiers.
One of the battalion's achievements as the apprehension of an American soldier who had murdered his company commander and had then taken to the bush, where he married a native girl and managed to escape apprehension numerous times. On March 9, 1945 the 159th battalion commander personally apprehended the fugitive as he tried to escape from a native hut. The convicted soldier was the only American soldier to be executed by order of court-martial in the China-Burma-India Theater.
The 159th Military Police Battalion was inactivated on October 27, 1945 in India and remained inactive until its redesignation May 4, 1959 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 159th Military Police Battalion, alloted to the U.S. Army Reserve and assigned to the First United States Army.
The battalion was again activated on May 25, 1959 at Hamden, Connecticut and served there until inactivated March 1, 1963.
On April 15, 1976 the unit was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 159th Military Police Battalion, assigned to the Fifth United States Army, and activated at Kansas Sity, Missouri. On February 1, 1981 the battalion was relocated to Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, Missouri, its current home.
The 159th Military Police Battalion is now organized under the modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE) 19-76H. The unit's present CAPSTONE headquarters is the 6th Infantry Division (Light), Fort Richardson, Alaska.
During peacetime subordinate units assigned to the battalion are Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 159th Military Police Battalion; the 102d Military Police Battalion (Guard), organized under MTOE 19-247H; the 494th Military Police Detachment (CF), organized under MTOE 19-53H; and the 671st Adjutant General Detachment, organized under MTOE 12-57H.
The wartime mission of the 159th Military Police Battalion is to command, control, and coordinate from two to five 19-77 MP companies providing combat support missions to the division theater of operations.
Captain Anthony D. Zabek was the Active Duty Operations officer, 159th MP Battalion, Belton, MO at the time this article was written. He holds a master's degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College, Paxton, MA.