MCB QUANTICO, Va. – As the Corps’ role in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations continues to grow, so do options for warfighters. Non-lethal weapons provide an important capability to help warfighters meet those demands.
"Our warfighters face a critical gap between shouting and shooting,” said Col. Kirk W. Hymes, director of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate here at Quantico. "In many operational situations, shouting is inadequate but escalating to a lethal response is not an appropriate or desired first response.”
More than 75 participants who support warfighters, including government and civilian employees, attended a training day, focused on non-lethal weapons. Hosted by the JNLWD, the training day on Quantico’s Range 14A, gave them a first-hand experience with several non-lethal weapons.
Safety was paramount, where shooters donned both eye and ear protection and received a safety briefing before the first round went down range.
Asking for volunteers was easy seemly anxious people hurried to stand in line to fire the non-lethal weapons.
"That was amazing; what a thrill,” said Patricia Logan, a representative from American Systems, which provides contract support to the JNLW Program. "I’ve never shot a weapon before. I’ve seen these (types of weapons) on paper, but it was so much more interesting to get some hands-on experience.”
Various types of non-lethal munitions were displayed and used in the weapon systems, which included the M203 40mm grenade launcher; the FN-303 "paintball gun on steroids,” which can be used alone or designed to be attached to an M16; and the Mossberg 500 pump action shotgun with attached launch cup firing a stingball grenade. All these systems are also currently in use in operations overseas. In addition, non-lethal rubber ball grenades were thrown traditionally and fired through a launcher attachment to the shotgun.
"We wanted to give some hands-on training and increase awareness of the non-lethal field,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Glenn Galman, the USCG liaison of the Capabilities and Requirements Division to the JNLWD. "We hope to give people a better appreciation for the capabilities and limitations of the systems.” The personnel involved were connected to non-lethal weapons through development, acquisition or just by being a potential user.
Another intention for the training event was for the shooters to develop and provide feedback to their field, according to Army Maj. William McMillan, of the Capabilities and Requirements Division, JNLWD.
"I thought it felt fake; you couldn’t feel a recoil like you can with most lethal weapons,” said Lance Cpl. Yvette Arroyo, one of the Quantico Marines present from Manpower Management Promotion Branch. "I liked it because it was pretty accurate considering we didn’t take any time to snap in or really acquire good sights or a real stable shooting position.”
Despite the advanced nature of the weaponry, to get the full experience of a weapons range, each shooter participated in a good old fashioned police call of not only casings, but also the expended projectiles.