News: US, Philippine Marines go non-lethal
Story by Lance Cpl. Codey Underwood
CROW VALLEY, Philippines – Digging into the sand, deep in the volcano scarred valley, warriors from opposite sides of the world learn non-lethal weaponry together.
Marines and sailors with the Maritime Raid Force, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit trained alongside Philippine Marines from the 71st Reconnaissance Company, 7th Infantry Division, to sharpen skills in non-lethal weapons and tactics here, Oct. 8.
Non-lethal capabilities provide the user another option of force by reducing the loss of life and collateral damage. Due to their unique skills and missions, the MRF Marines may find themselves needing this capability during regular operations.
“We provide external security for blocking positions and for the raid force going on to the hit site,” said Sgt. Matthew Hart, a squad leader with MRF Platoon, 2/1 and a native of Bothel, Wash. “It is important for us to understand that we cannot always use lethal force for every situation. So, when civilians come up, we need to understand these tactics as well to be just as effective.”
The Marines and sailors learned four weapon systems, all with enough force to slow or stop the target. The items fired during the training were the X26 Taser, FN 303 compressed air rifle, Stingball grenade, rubber shotgun rounds and non-lethal 40mm ammunition.
“With this training underneath our belts, this allows us to have another way to prevent situations from escalating,” according to Cpl. Kenneth Bubier a squad leader with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, III Marine Expeditionary Brigade and a native of Barstow, Calif. “There were four different weapons, and three of them I had never worked with, so it was interesting.”
The X26 Taser is a handheld weapon that launches two tethered barbs, delivering 50,000 volts through the target’s body. A compressed-air powered rifle, the FN 303 delivers a blunt impact oleoresin capsicum round. The Stingball grenade, larger than the fragmentation grenade, projects rubber pellets that can strike multiple targets at one time. Fired from a shotgun, the non-lethal rounds deliver blunt trauma to the target, effectively suppressing the individual. The non-lethal 40mm munitions, the largest of the four rounds fired from the M203 Grenade Launcher, send a rubber round to the target.
“These weapon systems are something that my Marines do not work with often,” said Master Sgt. Narciso Aromin, the platoon sergeant with 71st Reconnaissance Company, 7th Infantry Division and a native of San Jose City, Philippines. “Having this training gives us the ability to use these weapon systems, allowing us to stop riots or situations escalating out of hand.”
The Marines and sailors of the 31st MEU are conducting the 29th iteration of the Amphibious Landing Exercise alongside their Philippine Marine counterparts to further improve interoperability and maintain their long standing relationship.
“Training with the Philippine Marines is something that my Marines don’t get the chance to do often and may not ever get the chance to do again,” said Hart. “It is interesting learning the ways they train and [the Philippine Marines] learning how we train. We actually come up with some interesting ways of doing things after training with them.”
The 31st MEU will continue to train alongside the Philippine Marines for the duration of the two week, bilateral training exercise. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.