Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Travis Johnson, a rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, now part of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, detains a Marine role player as part of a nonlethal course here Jan. 29. The Marines executed riot control as their primary means of detaining hostiles during the exercise. Marines learned how to detain uncooperative locals using the least amount of force possible.

Photo by Cpl. Demetrius Morgan

11th MEU conducts nonlethal training

31 Jan 2014 | Cpl. Demetrius Morgan 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

One by one, Marines reluctantly stood at attention within six feet from an instructor. Some Marines tried to compose themselves with heavy breathing, while others clenched their fists preparing for what was to come. The smelly liquid agony launched from the can onto their faces one after the other.  

That smelly liquid agony on their faces was Oleoresin Capsicum, also known as OC spray, which is one of the nonlethal weapons that 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, now part of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, used during a voluntary weeklong nonlethal weapons and tactics training evolution here Jan. 27 to Jan 31.  

“Marines who go through this course are taught how to use nonlethal means in a combat environment,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Ybarra, one of the instructors of the nonlethal course and Salinas, Calif. native. “It’s important for Marines to be able to incorporate the tactics and equipment into their missions.”

Each day, Marines were given a class on a designated nonlethal tactic and/or weapon. Following the classroom part of the training, Marines went through a practical application portion, where each Marine proved that they could properly use the nonlethal weapon or implement the proper nonlethal tactic.   

Part of the training was to experience first hand what a nonlethal weapon is capable of doing to a human body. Before using the taser gun in the line of duty, Marines had to experience the feeling of getting shot with one. In the case of the OC spray, Marines had to get sprayed in the face, and then push through the pain as they completed an obstacle course that simulated a hostile situation. Marines did this to fully understand the capabilities of each weapon.     

After completing the taser and OC spray training, the Marines learned riot control techniques. The scenario consisted of a group of Marine role players attempting to overrun a secured area. The riot control Marines used riot shields, batons, and fake OC spray to suppress or capture the hostiles. On the last day of training, they took everything they learned and incorporated it in an exercise that simulated combat conditions.

“You want to use the minimum amount of force when doing this type of stuff,” instructed Staff Sgt. Clayton Kirk. “You all know what these weapons are capable of so you should only use them when necessary.”

After fending off mobs, feeling volts of electricity from the taser and experiencing the burning sensation of the OC spray Marines with 2/1 were mission complete with the nonlethal course.    

With their training complete, Marines with 2/1 are ready for the various possible threats they may face on their upcoming deployment.

Marine Corps News

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Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

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Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit