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By LCpl Jacob Pruitt
| 15th MEU | February 14, 2017
Marines from 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, Charlie Battery, the non-lethal weapons company for the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted training on Camp Pendleton, Feb. 14, 2017, to sharpen their skills in a variety of non-lethal weapons tactics they would use to stabilize hostile situations.
Oleoresin Capsaicin is a spray that irritates the eyes and nasal passages causing severe pain and other side-effects. Used as a non-lethal weapon to disable and disorientate hostiles, OC spray is used by riot-control groups for crowd control and self-defense. Marines learned the proper ways to use OC and other means of non-lethal force as well as experiencing the effects of it for themselves.
Being able to experience the effects of OC spray is vital to ensuring there are no surprises when using it in case of a mechanical malfunction or the wind shifting while in the middle of a hostile situation or conducting a crowd-control mission.
“The purpose of this training is to give the Marines a better sense of self-control and teach some alternative ways to de-escalate situations where lethal force could only make things worse,” said Cpl. Nicholas Smalling, a non-lethal weapons instructor. “Not all situations call for the type of lethal force Marines are capable of, however, this training provides Marines and Sailors of the MEU with the flexibility of having multiple plays for dealing with threats.”
First the Marines and Sailors receive their non-lethal weapons training, and then they begin the second training course by being hit with OC spray, where they must demonstrate all of the skills they learned throughout the course while impaired from the spray.
OC spray has several immediate effects as soon as it comes in direct contact with the body such as temporary blindness, swelling of the eyelids, difficulty breathing and a sharp burning sensation throughout the eyes and nasal cavities. During the training, the Marines’ biggest enemy was overcoming their own pain while remaining calm and in control as they struggled to fight through the course using baton jabs and other non-lethal tactics to take down and restrain hostile targets.
“This type of training is critical for the Marines here today, it teaches them to remain calm and keep their bearing even when fighting through agony,” said Smalling. “Marines learn a lot about themselves in this course, they realize exactly how much pain they can take and how strong they can be.”