Keeping the Peace, "B" Company receives non-lethal training

8 Mar 2004 |

Accepting the consequences, you turn around and wait for the pain that's about to hit your face. One solid spray and the fire is burning, halfway through 10 pushups and your skin feels radioactive while apparently someone thought it would be funny to jam needles in your eyeballs; at least that's how it feels. "Follow my voice," screams an escort as you stumble to a Marine holding a punching bag. Before throwing a punch you attempt to open your eyes, air and sunlight sweep in and suddenly those needles turn into nails - hot nails. Fumbling through two more stations, you make your way to the water hose and then the cool-down circle where there isn't much "cooling-down" taking place. An hour later, the fire starts to feel more like an annoying sunburn, but after what you just went through a sunburn feels just fine. Sounds like something that no one in their right mind would submit themselves to, but for nearly 120 "B" Company Marines, from Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., not only did they endure this pain, they drove 350 miles to receive it. The painful pepper spray known as oleoresin capsicum, or O.C., was just part of a weeklong non-lethal weapons and tactics course, held at Camp Lejeune, N.C., intended to help better prepare "B" Company for response to possible civil disturbances in the nation's capital. Along with receiving their O.C. certification, the Marines were trained by the Special Operations Training Group in various crowd-control exercises including riot baton techniques, vehicle and personnel searches, communication skills, riot control formations and use of the M203 Grenade Launcher and Mossberg 500 Shotgun. "This course was designed as a 10-day evolution for the MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) with the focus on non-lethal management of aggressive behavior," said SOTG Chief Instructor, Master Sgt. Daniel Dixon. "However, this training is pertinent for all Marines and especially for "B" Company because of their mission." While the ceremonial commitments of the "Oldest Post" often overshadows their role as a civil disturbance response team, the Marines jumped at the chance to gain this valuable training. At first only a handful of Marines went to the course to become trainers but when the command saw theamount of great training and experience they returned with, it was decided that the entire Company would close up shop for a week and board the buses for Camp Lejeune. While much of the week was spent in less than desirable conditions due to a combination of cold temperatures, high winds and freezing rain, the Marines pressed on and gained valuable education throughout the course. Each element of the course was first covered in a classroom setting under detailed lecture format, the instructors would then demonstrate the techniques followed by plenty of practical application time for the students. At the end of the entire revolution, the Marines combined all that they had learned into a field training exercise. "I've been in the Company for three and a half years now and this was the best field operation I have ever been in," said Cpl. Joseph J. Ceremuga III, armory, "B" Company. "The training we received at SOTG was far superior than any we had received before, and I hope we form our operating procedures around it." As Gunnery Sgt. Jon P. Quimby, SOTG Instructor, kept reminding the Marines, the training that they gained will not only benefit them, it will also help future Marines who they can teach the techniques to and most importantly will help protect the city and Marine Barracks if a situation wereever to arise. Capt. Torey S. Hinkson, commanding officer, "B" Company, said "Overall, I thought the training was outstanding. It enhanced "B" Company's ability to execute our civil disturbance missions in and around D.C., and it also served to build camaraderie, esprit de corps, and pride within the company."