Montana National Guard unit is relocating from Lewistown to Helena

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Posted at 5:55 PM, Jul 03, 2024

LEWISTOWN — A detachment of the Montana National Guard's 143rd Military Police Company, currently based in Lewistown, will be relocating to Helena by the end of the year. This move marks a significant change for the unit, which focuses on large garrison force protection and law enforcement.

Sergeant First Class (SFC) Ryan McNary, Readiness Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) for the 143rd MP Company, confirmed the timeline: "We are tracking to complete the move no later than the first of the year."

Montana National Guard unit is relocating from Lewistown to Helena

The 143rd MP Company, predominantly composed of military police officers known as 31 Bravos, is being re-consolidated as part of a broader reconfiguration of the Montana National Guard.

SFC McNary explained the rationale behind the move: "The unit is a garrison law and order unit, so it makes better sense to place it on a larger installation like Fort Harrison. Additionally, there is currently no 31 Bravo presence on the west side of the state, and this relocation will help expand recruiting options in that area."

Staff Sergeant (SSG) Nathan Carlson, Supply NCO for the 143rd MP Company, added, "Since we belong on a military installation, it works a lot better for us to be there."

The move will affect about three dozen soldiers, including two full-time staff members, who will now be based in Helena.

While the economic impact on Lewistown is expected to be relatively minor, there will be noticeable changes.

SFC McNary highlighted the economic implications: "Moving to Helena means that income will no longer come into the Lewistown community because we live here, buy houses here, and spend money here."

SSG Carlson noted, "The biggest impact for us is just moving our families."

During drill weekends, the presence of the soldiers in Lewistown has provided economic benefits through hotel rentals and local spending.

SFC McNary stated, "On drill weekends, when we're in Lewistown, we're renting hotels and feeding our soldiers in the local economy. That's 30 to 40 people spending money here each weekend."

While many soldiers will not face significant personal impact, those living farther away may have options to find new units or retrain.

SFC McNary explained, "They will have the option to join the 484th MP or retrain with a different Military Occupational Specialty or unit."

The state still needs to determine what will happen to the facilities currently occupied by the 143rd MP Company in Lewistown.