MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina -- “Shields!” shouts the platoon leader.
The formation shifts as all shields and batons come up to the ready position.
“Move!” He shouts again.
In the early morning, an overcast sky bore down on the 68 students participating in a riot-control simulation.
Infantrymen and artillerymen with Golf Company and Echo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, concluded two weeks of non-lethal weapons training aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, March 25, 2015, as part of their pre-deployment preparations.
“Consider they are hypothetically operating within an embassy,” said Sgt. Andrew S. Wilbur, a non-lethal weapons instructor with the Expeditionary Operations Training Group and a native of Richland Center, Wisconsin. “Instead of going directly to use of lethal force, they’ll have capabilities, such as riot formations and non-lethal munitions, to help combat the threat of unruly crowds.”
Some participants said the 10-day training course was more taxing than they anticipated. Several Marines volunteered to play the part of angry protesters, while the rest of the Marines practiced riot-control drills taught in the course.
Wilbur said he has participated in the training in the past and understands how it feels when the students get hit with a baton or pepper-sprayed.
“Getting [pepper-sprayed] is not fun - it’s not fun at all,” said Cpl. William J. Hanagan, a squad leader with Golf Company and a native of Jacksonville, North Carolina. “It shows Marines we have a lot more diverse capabilities than just lethal tactics on our side.”
Hanagan said the unit is fortunate to have gotten this type of training because a situation can change at a moment’s notice while on deployment. Often times, these extra skills become the key to getting a mission accomplished.
Instructors with EOTG train students in the proper use of batons, pepper spray and various munitions loaded with non-lethal rounds. The Marines are also taught takedown and restraint techniques.
“It’s definitely interesting to have the opportunity to instruct them and show them tools going straight from escalation of force to lethal courses of action,” Wilbur said.
The Marines are scheduled to deploy in September 2015.