SRT Marines on Okinawa stress on close quarters battle shooting

III Marine Expeditionary Force
Story by Lance Cpl. Richard Blumenstein

Date: 05.09.2008
Posted: 05.11.2008 20:13
News ID: 19318
Special Reaction Team Trains in Okinawa

By Richard Blumenstein
III Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs

CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, Japan — That's the basic routine of a specially trained and equipped team of military policemen who serve with the Special Reaction Team on Camp Foster. The team, which is part of the Marine Corps Base Camp Butler Provost Marshal's Office, is similar to a SWAT team.

Like SWAT members, SRT Marines are committed to a strict training regimen, the goal of which is to prepare them for any situation that might exceed the capabilities of regular military police forces.

The Marines spend a great deal of time on shooting ranges, fine-tuning marksmanship skills with their M-4 carbines and M-9 pistols and enhancing "muscle memory" automatic and precise response and application with those weapons. When the automatic response is deeply engrained, SRT takes their training to the next level, introducing elements of increased difficulty.

The difficulty factor of choice was fatigue April 29-30 when 10 SRT Marines conducted close quarters battle sustainment training at the Central Training Area's Range 8.

The Marines sought to simulate some of the stress of combat marksmanship with drills that raised the level of difficulty for shooters.

Marines sprinted as a group, running approximately 100 yards and then returning to the firing line to shoot a course of fire.

"Running then shooting simulates stress on the body," said Cpl. David Ramos, an SRT member. "Getting your heart rate up, getting your blood pumping, you start breaking a sweat. That makes it harder to find your natural respiratory pause and point of aim."

The Marines also participated in one-on-one pistol shooting competitions, racing up and down a small hill before firing. The winner had to put the most rounds in the center of the target and at least one round through a chemical light – about three inches long and half an inch thick – placed near the head of the target.

"When you're stressed out and under pressure like that, you start to lose those fine motor skills, and it makes things a lot harder," said Gunnery Sgt. Eric Meek, the SRT commander. "Plus, the competition creates additional stress and teaches them to shoot under those conditions."

Each Marine fired hundreds of rounds each day. They also practiced several other CQB skills, such as clearing stoppages, drawing and firing with one's weak hand, and reloading a pistol with one hand.

"It turns their fine motor skills into gross motor skills," said Sgt. Geoffrey Furgason, the SRT team leader. "Instead of having to think about it, they just react and do it."

The Marines conduct CQB sustainment training and an SRT-style CQB rifle and pistol qualification twice a month. The Marines fire 50 rounds from the M-9 pistol and M-4 carbine performing combat drills during their qualifications and must have a score of at least 80 percent to pass.

"Shooting is a perishable skill," Furgason said. "If you go months without shooting, those fine motor skills start to go away."