By Melissa Buckley, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood hosted Missouri State Highway Patrol Special Weapons and Tactics teams April 10 and 11, offering an opportunity to hone their techniques at one of the U.S. Army Military Police School’s training areas.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Lt. Casey Utterback, director of the Troop F SWAT team, out of Jefferson City, said getting to sharpen their tactical skills on an installation, such as Fort Leonard Wood, enhances their training experience.

“Having a place like this, that already has the buildings, accommodations and training areas allows them to focus on training,” Utterback said.

Sharing resources also benefits the Army, according to Scott Langley, deputy director of the USAMPS Directorate of Training and Education.

“The importance of sharing resources with organizations like the MSHP becomes important when interoperability becomes a requirement,” Langley said, noting emergency incidents in the past have shown Department of Defense agencies sometimes require help from neighboring agencies.

“Establishing relationships with those organizations strengthens those responses when they are needed most,” he added.

Hosting the MSHP on post also allows the troopers to have an inside look at the MP school’s operations, according to Langley.

“We can showcase the professionalism of our training, training programs, facilities and staff,” he said. “This will not only help strengthen the image of the Military Police Corps Regiment and Department of Defense law enforcement being among the most professional and capable law enforcement organizations in the country, but also helps spread that message to other individuals who may be interested in serving.”

The MSHP has nine troops spread across the state. About 80 SWAT team members from four of those troops — located in Springfield, Jefferson City, Kansas City and St. Louis — made the journey to Fort Leonard Wood, Utterback said.

“This is a great opportunity for us. It provides a place for all four of these teams to be able to train together. We get together once a year, but having a facility like this improves training in so many ways,” Utterback said. “We learn from each other, too. Like, the Kansas City team might do something differently than the St. Louis team, and it is nice to get to mesh that training together.”

All the Missouri State Highway Patrol SWAT team members are also uniformed officers, according to Utterback. He said their time spent on SWAT operations is minimal, making their training at Fort Leonard Wood even more crucial.

“We are all troopers at heart. We are a part-time team. Our main job is the road function. When we get the call, we have to be able to quickly switch hats and become SWAT operations.” Utterback said.

According to Utterback, the MSHP SWAT teams train twice a month individually and when they do they try to find old houses or abandoned buildings to practice in.

While on Fort Leonard Wood, they practiced sweeping and clearing buildings in scenario-based training at Stem Village, a mock city with buildings, including a bank, a church, several residential homes and a post office.

According to Langley, training facilities, such as Stem Village, allow law enforcement to train in similar environments to the ones they will encounter while on duty.

“Tactical teams perform their missions in multiple environments, from structures of all sizes, residential and commercial, to open air venues like city streets and wooded areas,” Langley said. “The training area at the Advanced Law Enforcement Training Division allows them the opportunity to train in multiple structure types, from small to large, and in exterior urban environments.”

Utterback said in addition to being able to hone their SWAT skills, getting the teams together on Fort Leonard Wood also allows them to build camaraderie.

“This is a lot better than just having a table-top discussion. We are all separated across the whole state. We don’t get to see each other very often, and when we are brought together it is usually on an operation,” Utterback said. “It is important for them stay together in the barracks here and eat together. They get to talk to each other and get to know each other better.”

Missouri State Highway Patrol Special Weapons and Tactics team members practice room clearing techniques on April 10 at Training Area 167. Fort Leonard Wood hosted the Missouri SWAT teams April 10 and 11, offering an opportunity to hone their techniques at one of the U.S. Army Military Police School’s training areas. (Photo by Melissa Buckley, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office)


About Fort Leonard Wood

Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post 80 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains nearly 80,000 military and civilians each year.

Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.

Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.

More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: