Army Reserve training divisions are known for their highly proficient drill sergeants. However, Brig. Gen. Miles Davis, commanding general of the 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training Division), says that many of his other Iroquois Warriors regularly operate within the ‘Band of Excellence’ too.
“The term is about sustaining proficiency, about maintaining training proficiency within that band of excellence,” explained Davis. “It is more than just a doctrinal term—it’s an expectation and way of life in the 98th Training Division.”
1st Sgt. Brian Kessler, first sergeant, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade, 98th Training Division (IET), is one of those Soldiers who operates, and has always operated within that band of excellence, according to several leaders in both the 1st Brigade and the Division headquarters.
Kessler is not one of the division’s leading drill sergeants though. He is an Army Reserve first sergeant. And prior to that role, Kessler served as a noncommissioned officer in the Military Police Corps on active duty for more than 10 years, with much of that time being stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia with the 98th Military Police Company.
In those days, the young Soldier wanted to do it all, said Kessler. “Early on, I was always striving for the next big thing. If there were any competitions or ‘cool-guy things’ to do, that’s what I wanted to do.”
One of those ‘cool-guy things’ included Kessler trying out for the Fort Benning Special Reaction Team, which lead to some great training with Customs agents and local police officers.
With all those years in the 98th MP Company, Kessler took on his fair share of deployments as well; three tours in Iraq to be specific. While in country, the young Kessler served on, and eventually led, numerous police transition teams.
As the years passed in the MP Corps, Kessler decided to move on and got out of the military in 2010. But the Soldier missed the life, the uniform and the comradery. So after six months working a civilian job, he joined the Army Reserve, but not just as a Soldier.
When out of uniform, Kessler served the Army Reserve as a government civilian, currently as the Force Management Analyst for the 98th Training Division (IET) Headquarters.
As the years passed on the Reserve side, Kessler showed his skills and dedication at both of these new roles. And in that time, the leadership got to know him, and his past. They learned about his accomplishments and experiences in the MP Corps and decided to give him the acknowledgement his years of service deserved by nominating him for the Order of the Marechaussee, explained Col. Timothy Pulley, commander, 1st Brigade, 98th Training Division (IET), who submitted the award nomination. “1st Sgt. Kessler is a well deserving Soldier who put other Soldiers in the MP Corps in front of himself.”
The Order of the Marechaussee, which is one of the highest honors from the Military Police Regimental Association (MPRA), was officially established in 2000 “to recognize exceptional dedication, competence and contribution to the Military Police Corps Regiment over an extended period of time,” according to the MPRA award description.
The Bronze level Marechaussee, which Kessler was nominated for, is only approved by the Chief of the Military Police Corps Regiment, Regimental Command Sergeant Major and the Regimental Chief Warrant Officer. Selected nominees must have “at least 10 years of significant service or support to the MP Corps Regiment,” stated the MPRA website. The other levels of the Marechaussee are Silver and Gold, which require 20 years of service and a select distinguished nominee considerations, respectively.
According to the MPRA, that service must stand out though. Nominated Soldiers “must have had an outstanding and positive impact in various positions of increased responsibility during their period of service.” Not only that, “they must clearly stand out from their peers in the opinions of their superiors, subordinates and peers alike.”
Kessler’s years of service and experience hit all those requirements and Pulley’s nomination was accepted. So in April, Kessler was officially awarded the Order of the Marechaussee (Bronze) at Fort Benning, the same base where he served most of his years in theMP Corps.
Receiving the Marechaussee was a definite highlight, said Kessler. “It’s different than other awards that are for a specific action or time frame, but this is for a career well served.”
Though his career path has been modified some, Kessler is still serving. And that makes receiving the Marechaussee now even that more special.
“I’ve seen people receive it, but most times it’s when they retire. So the true honor is to be able to receive it while I am actually still serving and actually be able to wear it,” said Kessler.
Looking down at the award, Kessler laughed and explained the irony between the Marechaussee history and his own experiences in the MP Corps. “If you look at the history of the Marechaussee, they talk about how [the MPS] did all these things that were not their job,” said Kessler.
Several sites listing the history on the Marechaussee state how MPs supported the Cavalry at times because they had horses. They also served as additional bodyguards to Gen. George Washington because they had weapons.
“So they did all these things on top of what their actually job was, which is still very true today,” said Kessler. “They say MP stands for multipurpose, and it’s pretty true,” said Kessler reflecting on his three deployment in Iraq. “You find yourself doing all kinds of things you never expected yourself to be doing, like counter IED missions or call-for-fire missions, which you don’t expect to do as a military police officer.”
The array of tasks and missions Kessler completed while in the MP Corps were not a bad or unexpected though. It just made sense, explained Kessler. “We were equipped very well in theater as far as vehicles and weapon systems, so it really does make us rather multipurpose to do different things that are required.”
That flexibility and adaptability has continued to serve Kessler after his transition into the Army Reserve as a Soldier and government civilian. In fact, Kessler said he finds that many of those serving in the Reserve to be very diverse, all working within that ‘Band of Excellence.’ “You can’t just look at someone’s rank to determine what they know. It just doesn’t work like that in the Reserve. You could have a sergeant who is in charge of a major on the civilian side or have this wealth of knowledge in this different field….I always found that very interesting,” explained Kessler.
Now that he has received one of the highest honors in the MP Corps, Kessler was asked about what his next goals would be.
“Awards are great to receive, but they are not the reasons people serve. So, I just keep on serving in the Army Reserve and going to different positions of responsibility.’
But whenever the Soldier side of Kessler does decide to retire, he’s thrilled to have found a place where he can still serve the Nation.
“I am happy about having a job where when I do retire on the military side, I will still be around Soldiers every day. I find that to be a benefit.”