In the News

News | April 3, 2009

Marines complete training with tears of different kind

By Lance Cpl. Paul D. Zellner Okinawa Marine Staff

OKINAWA, Japan – With tears in their eyes, snot running down their faces and adrenaline pumping through their veins, Marines from the III Marine Expeditionary Force completed the last part of Non-Lethal Weapons Training March 20 – the dreaded OC spray drill.

Oleoresin Capsicum spray, also called pepper spray, is a non-lethal substance used by law enforcement agencies and the military to confuse and render an aggressor compliant.

The spray, made from pepper extracts, is sprayed into the eyes causing disorienting tears, burning, redness and swelling. Very few individuals enjoy being exposed to the substance.

An aggressor is usually, but not always, more willing to comply with authorities after being sprayed, according to course instruction.

Instructors from the Special Operations Training Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted the non-lethal weapons course and introduced OC spray and many other non-lethal techniques to Marines and sailors that can be applied in hostile situations that do not require deadly force.

“The main point of this training is to give the command another step in the force escalation,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Hill, an Anti-Terrorism Force Protection instructor with SOTG. “We teach them how to make an aggressive individual compliant without deadly force.”

The Marine Corps defines deadly force as the use of force an individual knows, or reasonably should know, may cause death or serious bodily harm. When Marines find themselves dealing with unarmed rioters or hostile protestors, non-lethal techniques are often employed to restore order.

“This training opened up a full spectrum of weapons systems that we may need in a non-lethal situation,” said 2nd Lt. Jake Grader, 2nd platoon commander for Company K, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “We can respond as non-lethal and (retain) the capabilities to be lethal if needed.”

During the one week course, instructors taught non-lethal techniques available such as using the X-26 Taser, hand-to-hand techniques, the baton, general riot control procedures and of course, the OC spray.

“We spray the students and have them do fight through drills so they realize the subject can still fight after being sprayed,” said Hill. “They also must know that if they fight with someone that’s been sprayed it can get on them and they have to continue fighting.” The students were sprayed with OC and required to run to different stations to perform baton drills.

“It’s comforting knowing that we know how to use this stuff properly and are able to function after being exposed to it,” said Seaman Joe Bussey, a student of the course and corpsman with SOTG.