Cpl. Joshua Mann, a rifleman with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Battalion Landing Team, endures the pain of the HEMI/X-26E Taser during a three-day Non-Lethal Weapons Course aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Dec. 20, 2017. The course taught Marines how to properly implement the weapon systems and provided the Marines with the confidence and knowledge to push through the effects of the non-lethal weapons. The 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group are deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, and to preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region. (Photo by (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Hannah Perkins))
INDIAN OCEAN – Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) just completed their final portion of the Law Enforcement’s Non-Lethal Weapons Course, which is a three day course in proper non-lethal weaponry handling and usage.
“This course teaches Marines how to properly implement the weapon systems,” said Cpl. Cade Sullinger, a non-lethal weapons instructor with the 15th MEU’s Law Enforcement Detachment. “It also serves to provide the Marines with the confidence and knowledge to push through the effects of the non-lethal weapons.”
Namely the HEMI/ X-26E Taser and type MK-4 Oleoresin Capsicum spray. The effectiveness and reliability of the non-lethal weapons are unquestionably useful, continued Sullinger. It’s highly important the Marines know how and when to best use the weapons systems.
The Taser is a five-thousand volt, gas-powered, reloadable projectile used for close-quarters situations when dealing with a non-compliant aggressor. It has a max effective range of twenty-five feet and when implemented requires both pronged projectiles to make contact with the aggressor’s skin.
The Taser uses neuromuscular incapacitation working on the aggressor’s own central nervous system against itself. The shock forces affected muscles to clench and become locked while also causing severe pain, effectively disabling the aggressor. The nervous system is a complex web of electro-sensitive sensors that tell muscles when to contract and release. The electro-shock provided by the Taser acts as a flood of signals to these sensors, causing the body to uncontrollably clench, reliably shutting down any muscle groupings affected by the spread of the projectiles. The more widespread the prongs are placed affects how many muscle groupings can be shut down.
For an effective result direct contact with skin is required, and can be impeded by thick coats, phones, wallets, belts and a multitude of other objects. The Taser has the ability to be directly applied to the skin for a harder but shorter burst of electricity.
“The Taser portion of the class was very interesting,” said Cpl. Frank Delacruz, a student in the non-lethal weapons course. “But the real test of strength, for me, came from the O.C. practical application portion of the class, which taught us to stay focused and fight the pain to overcome your challenges.”
O.C. spray is used for the submission of a single or multiple aggressors, and is unquestionably powerful and versatile.
The class started by learning the history of the spray and its evolution into modern usage and from there covered its unique disabling capabilities and short falls. The United States military began researching O.C. spray in the 1970s and soon began implementation. It’s evolved since into the effective and harsh, yet non-life threatening weapon we used today.
The spray has three different methods of dispersion – a continuous shot spread out as a stream, a fog comparable to an aerosol-like dispersion, and a thick solution not unlike that of a fire extinguisher. O.C. is effective at upsetting an assailant’s ability to breathe properly and open their eyes.
After the instructors taught the class how to effectively operate the weapon systems, their limitations and drawbacks, the students were required to execute the practical application of the weapons’ systems under the supervision of trained professionals in a controlled environment, providing first-hand knowledge of what it feels like to be teased as well as how to fight through the pain of O.C. to take down an aggressor, either by themselves or with a partner.
“This course taught me almost as much about myself as it did the weapons systems we learned to operate,” said Delacruz. “Not only did the class teach me how to use the weapon systems and conduct takedowns, but also taught me I could fight through the pain and rely on my instincts to successfully deescalate an aggressor or a dangerous situations.”
This type of training is relevant to the Marines and Sailors of the 15th MEU especially if they are called upon for a noncombatant evacuation operation or embassy reinforcement, which are missions this Marine Air-Ground Task Force trains for specifically and maintains proficiency in.
“This course is beneficial to Marines should they go down range in the future to do an embassy reinforcement or evacuate refugees out of an area, “said Sullinger. “Say [someone] is to try us, to harm us, attack the embassy, what have you, this will provide a deterrent and let us escalate our force without having to use lethal means.”
A MEU is task-organized to operate across range of military operations and has 13 mission essential tasks required to be proficient in. Mission sets include noncombatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance, stability operations, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, joint and combined operations, aviation operations from expeditionary shore-based sites, theater security cooperation activities, and airfield or port seizures.
The 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group is deployed as a global response force to enhance regional partnerships and serve as a ready-response capability for any type of contingency.