Photo Information

Ralph Morten, an expert on irregular warfare, talks to Marines with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, about using police skills to help fight Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., June 8, 2011. Morten worked as a Los Angeles detective for 30 years before switching careers.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Walter D. Marino II

Former L.A. detective passes unique skills to infantry Marines

10 Jun 2011 | Lance Cpl. Walter D. Marino II

After 30 years as a Los Angeles detective, Ralph Morten decided it was time to pass on his knowledge.

Morten is an expert on irregular warfare who has deployed with Marines to Iraq seven times and twice to Afghanistan. Combining what he’s observed in Afghanistan with his keen detective skills, he has an informative class for Marines called “combat policing.”

Marines gathered at the base theater aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. to listen to Morten discuss ways to spot the Taliban and defeat their tactics June 8, 2010.

“We’re trying to teach the Marines to be beat cops. In many ways the Taliban are just like a big gang, like the Bloods and Crips in L.A.,” said Morten. “They do all the same things Crips and Bloods do: murder, theft, intimidate.”

Armed with a laser pointer and a projector, Morten engaged Marines from 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, by challenging them with hypothetical questions and scenarios involving Taliban.

During his time in Afghanistan, Morten witnessed certain Taliban activity that if noticed, could help Marines in their fight. Morten stated his goal was to teach Marines counter-gang tactics.

“A major key to counter-gang tactics is having contact with the local neighborhood. You need the help of the local population to be successful,” said Morten.

Morten also emphasized watching for small details of the Afghan populace.

“It never crossed my mind to pay attention to things like license plates,” said Cpl. Andrew J. Gould, a squad leader with the battalion. “I’m going to hit on attention to detail (with my Marines) on patrols and debriefs. I thought this class was good at showing actual stuff that happens and backing it with photos.”

As Marines responded with enthusiasm to his questions, Morten was pleased with the responsiveness to his class.

“Marines are the best counter-terrorists in the world because they’re out there every day hunting bad guys in their areas of operations,” said Morten, who has also worked with the Army. “Marines are so good because they’re dismounted all the time.”

Although the helpfulness of the class was noted by Marines, many stated it was only a percentage of what is needed to prepare for situations in Afghanistan.

“In the big picture this is helpful, but were not going to get everything we need in a classroom. You’re going to get it in practical application. It’s important to get out there and find a method to the madness,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Latham, a platoon sergeant in the battalion.”