June 13, 2018 —
Facing movements, formations, ‘rock inoculation drills,’ and perilous ‘bum rushes’ from fellow Marines role playing as unruly crowd members are all included in the drills. Marines with India Company, 3rd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment are methodically practicing in the blistering Middle Eastern sun to prepare for any crisis response operation they may be tasked with while deployed with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF – CR – CC).
“I’ve been tasked to train India Company in non-lethal weapons tactics,” said 2nd Lt. Roy Axcell Mckeever, the non-lethal weapons officer for SPMAGTF – CR – CC. “That incorporates several different things, but probably one of the more important ones is riot control.”
Marines begin the three day training period with classes and transition into practical application to apply the new skills. The ‘prac-app’ phase simulates realistic situations that Marines may face in a variety of operations.
“The reason this is important is because some of the mission sets they may respond to, like embassy reinforcement or non-combatant evacuation operations, might require these skills,” said Mckeever, whose primary military operational specialty is as a military police officer.
These missions require Marines to be comfortable and proficient with their gear. The last training evolution of the day, known as the ‘rock inoculation drill,’ prepares them for that. According to Mckeever, “it’s exactly what it sounds like.”
Marines don the full range of personal protective equipment, to include a shield and face mask, closely resembling those used by civilian SWAT teams.
“In a real-world situation they would probably get much worse thrown at them,” said Mckeever. “People can throw anything they can get their hands on, and this drill is to give Marines confidence in their protective equipment when facing a situation like that.”
Mckeever says that Marines have other tools at their disposal, beyond their protective equipment, in the event a crowd control situation should escalate beyond what they can control with intimidation and show of force.
“They might have to deal with tricky situations where the intent of our commander is to de-escalate the situation,” said Mckeever. “However, if things do escalate we can use non-lethal munitions, such as shotguns with bean bags or a grenade launcher loaded with foam batons.”
As the sun sank overhead, and the shouting voices faded, the Marines departed the sandy open field they had been training in all day. The conclusion of the training marks another day of crisis response preparation. While today the Marines only faced a simulated crowd, the training provides them with the knowledge and confidence necessary to react quickly and appropriately in any of the many contingency operations the SPMAGTF – CR – CC may encounter.