News: Shields in hand, Marines stand ready
Story by Sgt. Ned Johnson
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – In an unstable and ever-changing world, the Marine Corps continues to prepare for any mission in any clime and place.
Marines with 1st Marine Division are doing their part to stay ready, as Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, trained for three days using nonlethal weapons at Camp Horno, Oct. 27 through 29.
Nonlethal weapons training focuses on the use of controlled force in situations where noncombatants and innocent civilians may be involved, said Sgt. Luis Quinones, a nonlethal weapons instructor with 1st Law Enforcement Battalion.
The Marines spent time in a classroom learning techniques for crowd control and riots using batons, beanbag shotgun rounds, and flash-bang grenades. The Marines also learned to properly use pepper spray and tasers.
The training was about more than what to do in a nonlethal tactical situation, and included familiarization with the potential harm done. Marines were tased and pepper sprayed to better understand their future capabilities.
“Pain brings people together — when you suffer, you suffer together,” said Lance Cpl. Armando Gonzalez, a fireteam leader. “It makes you respect that person next to you when someone is willing to do the same things you are.”
The Marines with 1st Bn., 1st Marines, nicknamed First of the First, also donned riot visors and shields and practiced riot formations and crowd control to prepare them to work together. While Marines are familiar with working in four-man fireteams and 10 to 13 men squads, the riot formations incorporated 30 to 40 Marines.
The practical application made the Marines more comfortable as a riot control team and more effective for future deployments, said Gonzalez, a 26-year-old native of Los Angeles.
Bravo Co. Marines are currently deployed to Yemen in support of the Marine Security Guard Detachment at the U.S. Embassy. While Alpha Co. is not scheduled to deploy to an embassy, the Marines remain prepared for any situation as directed by the Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Larry Nicholson a part of his change of command.
“We need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice, there is no one else,” he said. “I believe we are ready now, and I believe we will continue to maintain that readiness. Our goal is to increase and improve on that readiness.”
The First of the First Marines have deployed to every major conflict of the last 100 years including to the Pacific in World War II, Inchon in Korea, Da Nang in Vietnam and multiple battles during Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. The Marines of Alpha Company continue that legacy by remaining trained and ready for whatever the future holds.