PMO units conduct hostage situation training
By Lance Cpl. Joanh Lovy, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- Marines with the Provost Marshal’s Office conducted hostage scenario training at Laurel Bay Feb. 4, 2016. Elements from the Criminal Investigations Division and the Special Reaction Team stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina participated in the exercise.
The training centered on a single individual barricaded in a house on Laurel Bay. The simulation was designed to be as realistic as possible to give the Marines a chance to test their capabilities.
“We did a hostage and barricaded suspect drill.” said Gunnery Sgt. Jerimiah Conn, operations chief with PMO. “The scenario began as a domestic disturbance and escalated into a hostage situation. We brought in different units from PMO and canine units for our tactical support. The end result was the suspect surrendering to us.”
The training area was controlled by cordoning off a residential area of Laurel Bay and constructing a temporary fence. The barrier ensured that the training site was a controlled environment with no outside elements interfering.
“There are constraints to working on Laurel Bay,” said CWO2 Chad Sitz, the investigations officer with CID. “We have to work around a full living community with three schools but, in the end, we need to be prepared for any possible security threat.”
The PMO units from MCAS Beaufort and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island are the first responders for security threats aboard either installation or military housing facility. It is necessary for Marines to train under realistic circumstances should a real world situation arise.
“We utilized real live assets and man power that we would have on the scene,” said Conn. “We made sure to only use the resources that would be available to us in a real situation. Everyone was on a realistic time line.”
Usually, each section of PMO trains individually to become proficient in their job fields. This scenario was a chance for them to work with other sections as part of one team.
“Training like this helps the Marines work on their tactical and communication skills,” said Conn. “It is easy to sit and work through a scenario one-on-one but, when we are out here, there are a lot more variables involved.”
Leaders had to coordinate with SRT and CID to get the most up to date information on the scene and make decisions in real time. It was just as much a test for them as it was for the participating teams.
“It is important for Marines to see how the entire system works from top to bottom,” said Sitz. “We had everyone from Privates First Class to senior officers on the scene to rehearse their roles.”
Each section had a specific role to play in the field. CID was in charge of communicating with the subject and gathering information while SRT physically interacted with the suspect utilizing their personal protective equipment. The simulation was resolved without major mistakes made by law enforcement.
“The Marines did quite well today,” said Conn. “There were a few minor mistakes that we need to review but, all-in-all, they did a pretty good job and we maintained communication between our assets and the command post.”
The PMO Marines of the Tri-command train year round for any crises that may arise. They conduct real world scenarios like this approximately three or four times a year.