In the News

News | Sept. 28, 2007

Free non-lethal weapons course for U.S. military members

By Lance Cpl. Evelio Ramos U.S. Marine Corps Training and Education Command

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. – A new course has been developed for all U.S. servicemembers looking to expand their knowledge on non- lethal weapons handling.

Penn State's Applied Research Lab and the Center for Community and Public Safety developed a new non-lethal weapons course, which is offered to all active duty and reserve military personnel free-of-charge.

The Non-Lethal Weapons: Policies, Practices and Technologies Non-Credit Certificate course is designed to teach proper procedures and safety on weapons like Oleoresin Capsicum spray, batons and tasers, according to Penn State's Eberly Campus' website at

Although the military doesn't issue tasers, the course serves as a refresher for active duty and reserve military personnel on other non-lethal weapons.

According to the Penn State Eberly Campus' website, completing the course doesn't reward servicemembers with college credits for a degree. However, the course does offer Continuing Education Credits, which are credits outside of a degree plan.

One CEC is awarded for every 10 hours of instruction and a total of 6.2 CEC's will be awarded for completing the course.

"We are currently working on making this a full benefit course," said David P. Derrico, joint non-lethal weapons director, The Eberly Campus, Penn State Fayette. "We would like to see the military get full credit for taking the course".

Because the course is done on-line or through DVDs it doesn't really give a lot of hands-on training. Still, it does offer a lot of information to refresh the minds of servicemembers looking to advance on their non-lethal weapons training.

"This course is something all Marines should know about, because we learn a lot about this and always need to do sustainment training," said Staff Sgt. Brent N. Ferrell, an administrative chief for Eastern Recruiting Region and reserve police officer for the Port Royal Police Department. "This helps us do our job, because anytime you don't have to use deadly force in your job it helps."

The course consists of seven different modules, which must be completed within six months of starting the classes.

The first module is the introduction to the course. This overview module introduces a general knowledge base of information, tactics, techniques, and procedures related to the various types of non-lethal weapons. It includes pictures and video clips, which are used to explain various examples of kinetic weapons, their use, and launching platforms.

The next three modules, called Technologies 1 - 3 will introduces students to non-lethal weapons and riot control agents. Students will also learn about different technologies used to stop vehicles on land and sea.

In modules five and six, students learn about and emerging technologies. They will also go over non-lethal applications and public order and management of non-compliant individuals.

Module seven is the integration of non-lethal weapons in decision making. During this module, a final exam will be administered and must be passed in order to complete the course.

A Penn State certificate is awarded upon successful completion of all seven modules.

This course offers a lot of useful information officers and staff noncommissioned officers to teach their servicemembers, Derrico said. "I hope they take advantage of it, because it offers a lot of useful information for troops in the ground and ensures they know as much as possible."