In the News

News | Dec. 1, 2009

Texas Guard deploys non-lethal weapons

By Maj. Deanna Bague Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office

McGREGOR RANGE, N.M. – Guardsmen from the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team felt the effects of thousands of volts throughout their body as they were tased during detainee operations training here.

"Once you tase somebody, they're done," said Staff Sgt. Richard Clarke, an observer controller/trainer from the 3rd Battalion, 358th Field Artillery Regiment. "There's nothing they can do. The average person — when you tase them — they're going down."

Sgt. Jimmy Burnett of D Company, 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 72nd IBCT, said before he was shocked, he thought he could overpower the taser.

"My intention was to resist it as much as possible," said Burnett. "I was thinking there would probably be a chance of resistance and that you could probably fight it off with a little bit of effort. That was my first thought."

The taser, can effectively stop an assailant, said Clarke. Soldiers develop confidence in the capability of the weapons by being at the receiving end, he said.

After being tased, Burnett had a totally different opinion about the effectiveness of the taser.

"I have a hundred percent confidence in it now," he said.

"Everything that they're learning here is completely non-lethal," said Clarke. "Everybody in the Army already knows how to use lethal force."

Observer controller/trainers taught the Guardsmen how to dissolve a situation before it escalates to where they have to use life-threatening alternatives, said Clarke. The instruction included other non-lethal methods — unarmed self-defense, riot control and oleoresin capsicum. Clarke said OC is the very last resort used because it is the most extreme use of non-lethal force.

"In my opinion [being sprayed with oleoresin capsicum] should be mandatory for all Soldiers who are in combat arms," said Staff Sgt. Cristobal Trevino, D Co., 1st Bn, 141st Inf. Regt.

Trevino said the reason why you want to have each Soldier experience the feeling of OC is in the case a riot breaks out and it is used.

"If you start spraying into the crowd, you just might get some sprayed on you — so you have to get that feeling as well," said Trevino.

Clarke said the goal of training the Guardsmen in the use of non-lethal weapons is to show them there are other alternatives.

"Non-lethal is definitely the way to go," he said. "You live to fight another day — be you the detainee or be you the person that used the non-lethal force — you live to fight another day."