MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Califronia -- “Death to America” is spelled out in large black and red lettering on a poster board, held by an Arabic man.
This man was among a group role-players, who simulated a riot outside the gates of a combat simulation town aboard Camp Pendleton. Inside the town, Marines secured the area by providing security and keeping the rioters outside.
Marines with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, came together Jan. 7, 2015, to train for efficient crisis response without the use of lethal force.
Arabic-speaking role players were provided for this exercise. They dressed the part and spoke the language to create a cultural and language barrier.
“This training is extremely important because 3/7 has had an illustrious combat history in the past thirteen years," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Ferguson, Expeditionary Operations Training Group instructor with I Marine Expeditionary Force. "They’ve done nothing but combat deployments.
“Doing a combat deployment is very aggressive in the nature. Crisis response isn’t about attacking the enemy, Crisis response is about responding to an incident, which has already happened and being able to control your actions in that situation and understanding how a unit’s actions in the environment translate into public perception.”
The basic training a Marine receives at the School of Infantry sets them up for success in this type of training. They learn how to use force, how to use weapon systems, and how to be attentive for long periods of time in miserable conditions.
“The use of role-players enhances training by providing the most realistic environment that you can create here on Camp Pendleton prior to deploying to a foreign area,” said Kevin Armentrout, operations manager for Glacier Technical Solutions. “When you’re utilizing Marines from your own unit for role playing, you don’t get the same desired training effect or a realistic escalation of force.
"By bringing civilians here, there’s a cultural barrier. There’s a language barrier; there’s an aspect that becomes realistic.”
During this exercise, Marines practiced how to go from an aggressive mindset, to a more relaxed mindset, said Ferguson, a native of Los Gatos, California. They had to keep themselves from responding as they normally would in a combat deployment.
“What I think the Marines are going to take away from this is a better idea of the unique relationship between the state department and the Marine Corps,” said Ferguson. “Now, the infantry is starting to get integrated into the mission of the state department. The support that Marines provide can be the future of a United States diplomatic mission overseas.”
The Marine Corps’ relationship with the state department enhances the Marine Corps mission by creating greater security at U.S. Embassies and oversea consulates during any crisis scenario. This protection gives confidence and stability to the U.S. presence worldwide, but starts with training scenarios like the one 3/7 performed Jan. 7.