News: Marines train sailors to protect chaplains
Story by Lance Cpl. Diamond Peden
CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, Okinawa -A Humvee abruptly stops in front of the black metal doors of a building, kicking up dust and rocks in its wake. Sailors, with M16 assault rifles at the ready, dismount quickly and escort their chaplain out of a potential danger area.
Scenarios like this were enacted throughout the day as Marines with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion provided religious program specialists with introductory personal security detail training March 25 at the military operation on urbanized terrain facility in the Central Training Area, Okinawa.
The religious program specialists are with various units within III Marine Expeditionary Force and will use the training to protect the chaplains they work with.
The weeklong training program, led by Marines with the Criminal Investigation Division, 3rd LE Bn., III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, is crucial to the specialists’ job of being an armed guard and assisting chaplains in any situation.
“We’re out here to receive hands-on PSD training to properly protect the chaplain in a combat situation and learn how to evacuate them if their life is in danger,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew M. Madonia, a regimental religious program specialist with 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “(While the chaplain) might not necessarily be the target, he’s vulnerable, and we need this sort of training to have better knowledge on how to keep him safe.”
The sailors executed practical application training based on previous classroom instruction, including site surveys on buildings, reacting to simulated ambushes and determining the threat level of an area.
“(The program) teaches them the basic principles of how to secure their chaplain, or any individual that they are protecting,” said Sgt. Randolph G. Fuhrman, a CID agent with 3rd LE Bn. “It’s important that they know how to protect their boss while they are moving him from point to point.”
After each scenario, an instructor took the RPs aside to discuss what areas of the training they executed well and what portions still needed improvement.
Going through the course helped the sailors understand the gravity of the religious program specialist’s role in protecting chaplains and ensuring everyone returns home safe, according to Petty Officer 3rd Class Ethan J. Tyler, a battalion religious program specialist with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF, under the unit deployment program.
“I feel pretty confident about using the knowledge they gave us to protect my chaplain in threat situations,” said Tyler. “I think training should be recommended for every RP.”