In the News

News | Feb. 22, 2021

Sustaining the force: MCAGCC PMO trains Marines in security guard course

By LCpl Joshua Sechser

Every six months, Marines from around the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center supplement the MCAGCC Provost Marshal’s Office with personnel through the Fleet Assistance Program.

 

“The Fleet Assistance Program is an often misunderstood assignment,” said Maj. Braden Trainor, the MCAGCC Provost Marshal. “It is not an ‘extended working party’ where Marines are sent to conduct menial tasks unspecific to military occupational specialty.”

 

“At MCAGCC, the Provost Marshal’s Office is a supported organization that receives Marines that meet selective requirements from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. PMO trains those Marines to conduct a real-world security and law enforcement mission in support of the installation,” he said.

 

The Fleet Assistance Program is a Marine Corps agreement that allows commanders the ability to request support in the form of additional Marines from other units and sections.

 

“PMO isn’t always as populated as we need it to be,” said Cpl. Molly Carlson, PMO training non-commissioned officer. “So, we have the incoming Marines fill in some of those blank spaces for us. So that we can rearrange our permanent personnel to suit our mission.”

 

Carlson, a native of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, stated that when PMO takes on new security guard personnel, they go through a rigorous training course.

 

“Our military police officers go through a full MOS schoolhouse, but these Marines only go through a two-week academy,” Carlson said. “It’s a crazy transformation. You see Marines from the infantry or support MOS fields come to us to do these academies and they consistently leave as a better and more mature Marine.”

 

The security guard academy teaches Marines the basics of working as a military police officer. The Marines are taught classes in general Marine Corps topics as well as classes specific to military law enforcement.

 

“They do so much training,” Carlson said. “They go through domestic response, sexual assault response, active shooter response, Oleoresin Capsicum qualification, defensive tactics, M9 service pistol qualification, M1014 combat shogun qualification.”

 

“You name it,” she said. “They get ‘the whole nine yards’ of law enforcement training condensed down to two weeks in the classroom and in practical application.”

 

One of the significant practical application training events is the qualification course with OC spray. OC spray, meaning Oleoresin Capsicum, is commonly known as pepper spray. Marines experience its effects first-hand.

 

“To be qualified on a non-lethal weapon you need to know what it feels like to be exposed to it,” Carlson said. “They go through a firsthand exposure across their eyebrows. That way if they ever have an accidental exposure to it or second-hand exposure to it, they will have the ability to fight through that pain.”

During their OC spray qualification, Marines demonstrate their ability to detain a suspect and to make an arrest under the stress and pain caused by the OC exposure.

“I was originally thinking to myself ‘Man, this isn’t too bad’,” said Lance Cpl. Isaiah DeClusin, mortarman, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. “I was wrong. My eyes and face were on fire. The hardest part is trying to keep your eyes open. Your body just wants to shut down and focus on the pain, but I was able to push through it.”

DeClusin, a native of Farmington, New Mexico, volunteered to participate in the temporary additional duty with PMO and stated that he has enjoyed the training so far.

“Being a security guard will be a great opportunity for me,” said DeClusin. “I plan to go into police work after my time in the Marine Corps and I’m glad I am able to get my feet wet here with PMO. Also, this TAD lets you go through something new, seeing things about the Marine Corps that you may not be able to experience in your home unit or MOS.”

After completing the security guard course, the Marines are authorized to wear the badge of a military police officer and are authorized to carry lethal and non-lethal weapons in their duties.

“A critical part of any military operation is security,” said Trainor. “The mission that Marines assigned to PMO perform is very similar to the mission Marines forward deployed are assigned when they stand a security post. The security and protection of the Combat Center relies upon alert Marines who assess behavior for signs of deception, probing, and collection.”

Trainor stated that he has a high confidence in the security guard Marines to remain vigilant, report suspicious activity and deter threats.

Carlson made clear that the security guard Marines are treated as part of the MCAGCC PMO team.

“When these Marines come to us, we treat them as our own,” Carlson said. “They will go to the same annual qualifications as our permanent personnel. They are afforded opportunity to complete their enlisted professional military education courses alongside our permanent personnel.”

Marines with PMO are held to a high standard of professionalism, security guard Marines are no exception.

“We hold them to a high standard and teach them how to use tact and be respectful to people,” Carlson said. “Their level of professionalism is night and day from when they first arrived, by the time they return to their command. Since they are the first face people see and interact with everyone that comes through the gate, we need to make sure they are a good representation of the Marines aboard MCAGCC.”

Trainor affirmed that every Marine assigned to PMO is integral to the mission. Their success relies upon the attentive eye of the Marine on watch and that Marines bias for action.

“I am honored for the opportunity to return to my first duty station,” said Trainor. “23 years ago, I served here as a rifleman with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. I plan to give back to the organizations that made me successful. I promise to return the investment and to further develop the lethality of this generation’s warriors.”