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The 42nd Military Police Brigade is a military police brigade of the United States Army based at Fort Lewismarker, Washingtonmarker. It is a subordinate unit of I Corps.

First activated as a customs unit in post-World War II Germany, the brigade has a long history with United States Army Europe. Its duties as a customs unit meant that the unit was garrisoned in Germany for over forty years from 1950 until 1990, never seeing action in the US operations in Koreamarker, Vietnammarker, or the Gulf War. It was deactivated during the post-Cold War drawdown of the US Military.

Reactivated in 2004, the brigade provides corrections and force protection for both I Corps and Fort Lewis. The brigade and its subordinate units have seen several tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


The brigade is a subordinate unit of the I Corps, and is separate, meaning that it does not report to a division level headquarters, even during theater operations.

The brigade contains four prime components, all headquartered at Fort Lewis. The Brigade's two permanently assigned MP battalions are the 504th and 508th Military Police Battalions, both of which have several subordinate companies. The Brigade also contains a Force Protection unit and a detachment for the Brigade's Provost Marshal.



The 42nd Military Police Group traces its lineage back to the 7751st Military Police Detachment, which was established on March 21, 1949, to fight organized and widespread black-market activities which posed a serious threat to the German economy. The unit enforced USEUCOM Customs Regulations, investigated violations, controlled parcel post shipments of black marketable goods, and manned twenty-three border stations used by US military personnel crossing the international borders of Post-World War II, US occupied Germany.

In August 1950, the US High Commission for Germany requested the services of the "Customs Unit," later designated as the 42d Military Police Detachment, to control the eastward movement of restricted goods to "Satellite Bloc" countries. With the increase in tensions between the United States and the Soviet Unionmarker, this function was important to US interests in Europe. On November 1, 1952, the detachment was relieved of its strategic export control function, which was subsequently was resumed by German authorities. In May 1955, Germany regained sovereignty over its land from US Military forces. The rights, privileges, and obligations of the foreign forces and their members stationed in Germany were then based on the Bonnmarker forces convention, the forerunner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizationmarker Status of Forces Agreement (NATO SOFA) and the supplementary agreement that followed. As a result, the unit was charged with establishing customs controls within Germany. It was because of this responsibility that the unit would never be deployed in support of the Korean War or the Vietnam War.

Cold War Years

On January 25, 1968, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 42nd Military Police Group was constituted in the Regular Army and activated in Germany. The group was charged with providing customs enforcement and maintaining liaison and cooperation with German customs authorities at all levels. In addition, the group is responsible for establishing customs policies and procedures for the Federal Republic of Germanymarker and to negotiate with German authorities on questions of procedure and US forces entitlements arising from tax and customs issues within the NATO SOFA. It received a Meritorious Unit Commendation for its outstanding job performing this role. In 1969, the group received its own distinctive unit insignia.

On July 1, 1974, the 42d Military Police Group was transferred to the 15th Military Police Brigade, retaining its missions and affiliation with United States Army Europe. On December 13, 1974, drug suppression and anti-hijacking protection were added to the missions of the 42d Military Police Group. On June 1, 1976, relieved from it assignment to 15th MP Brigade, the 42nd MP Group was reassigned to US Army Europe and Seventh Army and, on October 21, 1977, placed under the 21st Support Command.

On December 1, 1977, the Commander of the 42nd MP Group became the Executive Agent for all customs matters in US European Command. As the Executive Agent, the group commander provided staff supervision over the US Military Customs inspection programs in 11 countries throughout Europe. This responsibility included staff supervision of 169 military customs inspection programs operated by the US Army, US Navy and US Air Force.

On January 21, 1978, the 42d MP Group was reassigned to Headquarters, US Army Europe/7th Army (Office of the Deputy Commander in Chief) and converted into a major command. In August 1983, the Commander of the 42d Military Police Group was also designated the USAREUR Executive Agent for customs for US Forces personnel in Germany.

The brigade's responsibilities in Europe prevented it from being deployed in the Gulf War. In August 1994, the 42nd Military Police Group was deactivated with the military drawdown of US Military forces in Europe. In May 2004, the still inactive unit was redesignated as a brigade, in preparation for its reactivation that fall.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

In late June 2004, the 1st Military Police Brigade (Provisional) based at Fort Lewismarker, Washington, received word that it would be reflagged as the 42nd Military Police Brigade. On October 15, 2004 the provisional brigade was deactivated and the 42d Military Police Brigade was activated as the I Corps Military Police Brigade. The next day, the brigade received its own shoulder sleeve insignia. Responsibilities of the Brigade at Fort Lewis include the direction of inter-service corrections operations at the Fort Lewis Regional Corrections Facility, as well as emergency services and force protection operations for the Fort Lewis area. The unit received word from the Department of the Army that it would deploy to Iraq less than thirty days after activation.

The 42nd Military Police Brigade deployed to Baghdadmarker, Iraqmarker from November 2004 to November 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, relieving the 89th Military Police Brigade which had previously been assigned there. The brigade operated out of Forward Operating Base Volunteer during its tour. During this tour, subordinate units of the brigade were responsible for training cadets of the Baghdad civilian Police department. This training included law training, human rights education, first aid, and weapons training on Glock-19s and AK-47s. They also had a counter-terrorism class for Iraqi officers. During the assignment, the brigade suffered several casualties, including multiple soldiers killed by improvised explosive devices, and another soldier killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Their organizational operation during the deployment received praise, and was the basis for the organization of subsequent Military Police brigades that deployed. After its return from Iraq, the Brigade's operations were assumed by the 49th Military Police Brigade. The brigade received another Meritorious Unit Commendation for its work during the deployment.

The brigade was scheduled to deploy to Iraq in spring of 2008. Its assignment was to conduct theater wide internment facility and reconciliation center operations, as well as managing the Iraqi Correctional Officer Training academies. Subordinate units of the Brigade have been deploying to Iraqmarker regularly. The 571st MP Company deployed for 15 months, from November 2006 until January 2008. The 504th MP Battalion deployed to Iraq in July 2007. Also deployed were the 54th and 170th Military Police Companies.

On March 31, 2008, the brigade deployed again to Iraq, assuming command of Task Force Bucca from the 300th Military Police Brigade. The 42nd MP Brigade operates out of Forward Operating Base Bucca, located in the southeastern corner of Iraq near the port of Umm Qasrmarker and the border with Kuwaitmarker. Duties of the Brigade during this deployment include force protection, operation of internment facilities, and detainee reconciliation, teaching Iraqi prisoners to read and write and training them in technical skills that will boost their employment potential. During the deployment, soldiers of the brigade worked closely with Iraqi police forces and United States Navy forces to operate the facilities. On June 2, 2009 the brigade cased it's colors and transferred command of Task Force Bucca to the 89th MP Brigade Tactical Actions Center. The brigade is set to redeploy to Fort Lewis in mid-June.


Unit decorations

Ribbon Award Year Notes
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) 1968 for service in Germany
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) 2004-2005 for service Iraq

Campaign streamers

Conflict Streamer Year(s)
Operation Iraqi Freedom Iraq 2004-2005


  1. Task Force Bucca Newsletter: Volume 1 Edition 7, April 26, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
  2. Task Force Bucca Newsletter: Volume 1 Edition 9, July 31, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-01.

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