Marines and Sailors of Black Sea Rotational Force 14 completed a non-lethal weapons training course, Sept. 3-9, on Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania.
The course began with level one exposure to Oleoresin Capsicum spray with a follow-on short martial arts course. The service members lined up to receive concentrated spray to the eyes and immediately ran through the course.
The course, which included hand-to-hand takedowns and baton strikes, forced service members to make quick decisions and remember their training while under duress. Once they completed the course, the participants were allowed to flush their eyes with water and were monitored for one hour by military police and medical personnel.
The major effects of OC are agitation of the eyes, skin and mucus membrane, similar to an intense sunburn said Gunnery Sgt. Kevin McMillian, non-lethal weapons instructor for BSRF 14.
The purpose of the OC portion of the training was to equip the individual with the knowledge of the OC spray, such as minimum safe firing distance, how to disperse a crowd with OC and break up violent protests said McMillian.
The training continued with a Taser course, exposing members of the company to 50,000 volts of electricity throughout their body. The exposure lasts five seconds, with some service members hooking the Taser to their bodies and some opting to be shot with prongs.
Most service members’ entire bodies locked up during the exposure, some made uncontrollable facial expressions and others yelled as the volts coursed through their bodies. However, all members of the company breathed sighs of relief as soon as the five seconds was over.
Non-lethal munitions handling and firing was the next stage of the course. Beanbag and 40 mm rubber ammunition rounds were fired by the company at stationary human-sized targets. The service members practiced with the weapons beforehand to get a sense of how the weapons systems work, including loading, firing and proper handling. The targets were marked in several areas to show the correct placement of the rounds to incur proper takedowns with non-lethal results.
This course of fire gives the individual the knowledge to employ the weapons systems in a proper manner, including minimum safe distance for fire of each weapon and how each round impacted a target, said McMillian.
Riot and civil disturbance exercises were the last stage of the training. Golf Co. donned shin guards, face shields, riot shields and wielded batons while they learned formations for crowd dispersion and riot control. The participants learned how to move quickly and set up different formations while utilizing the weapons from the non-lethal munitions portion of the training.
We teach them what kind of crowd they have to go into in case of a civil disturbance and what capabilities, including formations, special teams behind the formation and non-lethal weapons systems, they can use for each situation, said McMillian.
Volunteer role-players acted as protesters with a varying degree of violence directed at the formations, which let the Marines view different types of civil disturbances that they could deal with. The capacity to deal with civil disturbance situations helps support continuous security in the Black Sea region.
Each situation would dictate a different tactic that the formation would have to employ to disperse the crowd and take control of the situation. The role-players would rush the formation to break through the line, sit down and link arms in a more peaceful style protest and even fight each other in order to force the formation to react quickly and appropriately to the event.
The entire non-lethal course is used to give Marines new skills, tactics and techniques to use in situations that require it. These skills can be passed on from the Marines to partner nations, increasing shared capabilities between the two.
The training definitely helps maintain the integrity that we’re promoting a different type of skill set to sustain different forces and situations, said McMillian.
“If NATO sees us as those forward operating forces and they employ those Marines that have been trained, that’s just another capability to use,” said McMillian. ”It shows we’re not there to harm or hurt, just there to give them a wider range of things they can do other than use lethal munitions.”