MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Through tearing eyes, a runny nose and an uncontrollable cough, a motor transportation Marine with Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, yells commands after taking a subject to the ground. “Turn away from my voice! Cross your ankles! Bring your palm to the small of your back!”
Throughout the morning, Marines from Truck Company continued this scene as they underwent the Oleoresin Capsicum certification course held by the Military Police Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune N.C, June 21, 2011.
OC, or pepper spray, is used as a non-lethal weapon to deescalate a situation rather than having to use deadly force.
“OC spray is an inflammatory agent that cuts off the function of the tear ducts, forcing the eyes to shut. It also causes difficulty breathing, a running nose and coughing with diminished effects lasting hours after exposure. As MPs, we get trained on it, so we know how it feels and build confidence in our ability to use it,” stated Sgt. Roman Sena, the training chief for Military Police Company.
The OC course is made up of five different stations that test the Marines' ability to push through the pain of OC spray in a combat situation. The stations require Marines to subdue stationary and attacking role-players by using training-OC spray, batons and specific techniques known as Mechanical Advantage Control Holds. If the Marines fail to properly employ the different MACH techniques during a station, they must reset and try again.
“We don’t tell them what they messed up, but force them to figure it out for themselves,” said Sena. “Under that level of OC, you’re not thinking - your face is burning, your eyes are slamming shut, snot’s going everywhere, but it’s important that they push the pain out of their minds and think about what they need to do.”
Before undergoing the OC course, the Marines received a period of instruction where they learned about the capabilities and effects of OC spray. Following the instruction, the Marines were taught all of the different MACH techniques and takedowns they would be required to employ while under the effects of OC spray.
“Without knowing the MACH techniques, the Marines couldn’t complete the course, so throughout the training we drilled the techniques constantly.”
Each of the Marines who completed the course receives a level-one certificate for their military records showing that they understand the fundamentals of the OC canister as well as how to employ it against someone in a combat situation.
“I was very impressed with the Marines that ran the course,” said Sena. “They really did an awesome job pushing through the pain and every one of them made it through the course.”