News: African Lion Marines and Moroccans conduct Peace Support Operations
Story by Sgt. Nicolas A. Cloward
TIFNIT, Morocco - Marine reservists from the Marine Wing Support Squadrons 471 and 473, and Royal Moroccan Armed Forces conducted bilateral Peace Support Operations training on a Moroccan training site in Tifnit, Morocco, during African Lion 2012.
PSO training involves the use of nonlethal techniques and procedures that prevent an escalation of force during crowd uprisings. At a glance, it sounds like riot control, however, that’s not necessarily the case, according to Michael Cleveland, subject matter expert and nonlethal weapons program manager for Marine Forces Africa.
The Marines and Moroccan soldiers trained with a number of nonlethal weapons such as Oleoresin Capsicum gas (pepper spray); taser guns; flash bang grenades and claymore mines with rubber pellets.
If there’s an unrest that has been observed, possibly following humanitarian aid and disaster relief, peacekeepers are often faced with desperate people seeking aid, Cleveland said.
“If we come in with a convoy with supplies, water and food, and you start to run low, but the crowd is still there in numbers, then people tend to panic, ” said Cleveland. “Now, the people that you’re there to support can create problems that could result in the loss of life, and for that, we need tactics to get it under control without fatalities”.
The forces have trained each other in several subjects such as formation drills, prisoner detention techniques and perimeter control.
There has been a lot of interest in exchanging ideas between the two military forces, said Maj. Tad R. Scott , a Murfreesboro, Tenn. native, and PSO site commander, based with MWSS-471.
“Together I think we can come up with ways to deescalate any kind of disturbances,” said Scott.
Working together has helped them develop new ideas in the area of PSO. There’s also been extraordinary cohesiveness that’s developed between the Marines and Moroccan soldiers, said Scott.
“They’re just as motivated as we are,” said New Orleans native and military police officer Lance Cpl. Grey J. Thurman of the 47th Marine Wing Support Group, 4th platoon. “They’re hard workers, with a competitive edge.”
Thurman said one of the main reasons he joined the military was to see the world, and interact with other people and cultures to see what they have to offer. For many of these young Marines in Morocco, the relationships they’ve fostered and their experiences during African Lion 2012 will be something they cherish throughout their careers and a lifetime.