U.S. ARMY MILITARY POLICE CORPS OFFICER'S CEREMONIAL BELT

Worn with the Army Service Uniform, the ceremonial belt for officers serving in the Military Police Corps is manufactured in the branch colors of Green and Yellow with a gold border. The buckle is emblazoned with the obverse of the Great Seal of the United States, almost universally referred to as the Coat of Arms of the United States.

Sometimes called a sabre belt (spellings of “saber” are not unusual), the ceremonial belt is an optional purchase item that is not required for wear, but Military Police Corps officers would e wise consider an integral part of their total dress-uniform wardrobe. It can be awkward to appear at an event without a ceremonial belt only to see that all the other officers were thoughtful enough to use the belt as a finishing touch on a complete dress-uniform presentation.
 
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To a casual observer, it might be come as a surprise that the United States Army did not establish the Military Police as a basic branch of the service until September 1941. After all, the need for the task that Military Police deal with as a matter of routine, including the enforcement of both Army codes of conduct as well legal statutes, have been around for as long as there have been soldiers. But we need to keep in mind that, until World War II, the United States Army was typically very small except during wartime operations, and military policing duties could be handled adequately without the need to create a separate command.

What isn’t as easy to understand is why it took three decades following the establishment of the Military Police Corps for the Army to establish a Criminal Investigation Command—especially since the foundation for just such a division had been laid more than fifty years earlier.

Following the creation of the Office of the Provost Marshal General (PMG) and a Military Police Corps within the American Expeditionary Force in the June and July of 1917, General John J. Pershing ordered that a Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) be formed, headed up by an officer who possessed a “thorough knowledge of detective work in all its branches” and who would act as a technical advisor to the AEG Provost Marshal General concerning all matters related to criminal investigations. Such a move would constitute a considerable improvement in the importance placed on criminal investigations, which were referred to only in passing in the Regulations for the Provost Marshal General’s Department.

But no headway was made in actually establishing such a division until Brigadier Harry Bandholtz was named PMG—the fifth officer to hold the office in a little over a year. In November 1918, Pershing gave Bandholtz more specific instructions on how the DCI should be formed, telling him to draw on soldiers from the Military Police Corps in addition to hiring “civilian operatives.”

Bandholtz took the responsibility seriously, especially since it had come to light that the random nature of the military draft had invariably brought criminals into the Army, many of whom saw the confusion of post-War Europe as a perfect stage for robbery, theft, and confidence games. In the span of just four months after it was formed, the DCI handled more than 4500 cases, including 32 murders and 25 rapes.

Bandholtz was firmly convinced of the need for a permanent Military Police Corps as a basic branch of the Army, and in 1919 he submitted a proposed Act to create and organized the Crops to Congress. Bandholtz’s also delineated not only how the DCI would fit into the Corps, but also how it would be funded.

But the headway that DCI had made in such a short period of time apparently did not have a major impact on the time-honored tradition of disbanding organized Provost Marshal operations as soon as hostilities came to a conclusion. On May 29, 191, just three-and-a-half weeks after Bandholtz released his report detailing the division’s work between 12 December 1918 and 12 April 19191, the DCI was transferred to the HQ, Services and Supply, and the next month the termporary AEF Military Police Corps was dissolved. Although the division was revived near the end of World War II, it was decentralized following the war's end. Although the Army created a Criminal Investigation Aency to oversee all CID operations across the globe in 1969, its effectiveness was stymied because it lacked command authority.

Today's CID is a major Army command headed by the Provost Marshal General of the United States, an office that was permanently reinstated in 2003.
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