CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Personal security detachment personnel from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s command, aviation and logistics elements attended the PSD course at 1st Marine Division Schools here March 9-20.
The Marines who attended the training will be responsible for the security and safety of their unit commanders as well any dignitaries that might be visiting during the MEU's deployment later this year. Traditionally, PSDs are used to move commanders around the battlefield.
The PSD course included instruction on patrolling, walking formations, evasive driving and advanced site-survey techniques.
"The purpose of the course is to train Marines so they can protect VIPs in any environment, be it Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere," said Cpl. Samuelu Tumanuvao, a PSD course instructor.
The students from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166 (Reinforced), Combat Logistics Battalion 11 and the command element started the course with classroom instruction to familiarize them about the purpose of a PSD and gradually moved to practical application as the course progressed.
“The most important thing the students need to learn during the training is that the principle needs to be protected no matter what,” Tumanuvao said.
The principle is the person being protected by the PSD, and much goes into keeping them safe, said Cpl. John McKay, an administrative clerk and PSD member with the 11th MEU.
McKay said that one of the most difficult things to learn was surveillance and advanced site surveys.
“When we go to a place we have never been, it’s important to discover all the possible threats and if there are people watching you,” he said. “Then you can formulate your security plan. The better the security plan, the safer the principle will be.”
The Marines spent two days in Oceanside, implementing what they learned and practicing surveillance techniques.
The last day of training was a culmination exercise at an urban training facility.
“During the final exercise, the instructors tested everything the students learned during the two week course,” Tumanuvao said.
The students donned masks and were given special rifle attachments that fire simulated munitions. The PSD Marines entered the training facility both on foot and in humvees and ran through numerous scenarios where they needed to protect the principle.
“The last exercise was a good test,” said Sgt. Justin Schoonover, a field radio operator and PSD member with the 11th MEU’s command element. “I think we have a good team with a varied group of Marines.”
During the next six months, the PSDs from the various units will be furthering their training and building cohesion as a small unit in preparation for their deployment.
“After the students graduate from the course, we expect them to be proficient as a PSD and be able to operate, no matter where they are,” Tumanuvao said.