MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
One after another, they willingly and reluctantly stepped into position, closed their eyes and held their breath trying to prepare themselves for what was to come. Seconds later the stream of liquid suffering raced across the six-foot gap between the canister and its target – drenching their faces, one after another.
The liquid suffering each of the Marines and sailors, with the Ground Combat Element of Africa Partnership Station 2012, met is called Oleoresin Capsicum, more commonly known as OC Spray, a non-lethal weapon used by both the military and law enforcement agencies. Being sprayed with OC was the beginning portion of the OC certification course each of the Marines and sailors underwent as part of the two-week-long Non-Lethal Weapons and Tactics training aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 18.
The certification course is made up of five stations that test the Marines' ability to push through the pain of OC in a hostile situation. The stations require individuals to subdue stationary and attacking role-players by using batons and specific techniques known as Mechanical Advantage Control Holds, all while under the effects of OC. If they fail to properly employ the different MACH techniques during a station, they must reset and try again until they perform the move correctly.
“Any Marine can handle this course,” said Cpl. Michael Perez, an artilleryman with the APS ground combat element. “The first two days of training they have you practice the techniques over and over again. So, when you’re going through the pain of the OC, your body performs the techniques without even thinking about it, because the moves were built into your muscle memory the first two days of training.”
Before they could conduct the certification course, the group received two days of training, not only learning the MACH techniques and takedowns used during the course, but the history and proper way to use OC as well.
“Not everyone gets an opportunity to do this,” said Staff Sgt. Angel Urbaez, platoon sergeant for rifle platoon with the APS ground combat element. “But being that we are going to embark on an APS deployment, our primary mission is not to encounter hostile forces, it’s to cross train other militaries and in the event that we do encounter some sort of threatening force, we want to do so with minimal lethal force, making this training extremely important.”
Gaining a full understanding of these techniques and tactics will be essential as the group continues through the Non-Lethal Weapons and Tactics training.
“For these guys, this training is really important for going over to another country; teaching another country at that,” said Staff Sgt. Timothy Judd, staff non-commissioned officer in charge for Special Operations Training Group. “We try to provide them the best tactics and skills, so they can turn around and teach those tactics and skills, and these guys have done extremely well over the past three days I’ve had them. They’ve quickly grasped the past two days of learning the MACH techniques and were able to push through the pain of the OC.”
With their good grasp and understanding of the techniques, tactics and proper use of OC, the ground work has been laid for the APS Marines and sailors to build on, as they continue through the Non-Lethal Weapons and Tactics training in the coming days.