MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga -- Albany Marine Band members recently took part in military police augmentation training here Jan. 21 - Feb. 17.
During this long period of training Staff Sgt. Keith Connor, training staff noncommissioned officer, Provost Marshal's Office, instructed 32 sergeants and below in the same training that military police personnel undergo.
Throughout a period of almost four weeks, the band members were educated on deadly force and the proper use of it, pressure point control tactics, defense tactics, handcuffing and a heart saver course taught by Branch Medical Clinic personnel. They also were required to qualify with a 9mm pistol and be sprayed with pepper spray.
"Because of readiness, we augment Marines from the band," Connor said. "If the threatcon level is raised we will have an increased number of personnel to carry out the duties that are entailed with that level of force protection."
This method of readiness is not new to MCLB Albany or the Marine Corps. At many Marine Corps installations the bands serve as augmenters to PMO should the occasion arise that more military police are needed.
"The band has one of the largest number of Marines here," Connor said. "By training the band it allows other Marines on the base to continue to perform their duties during any situation that may arise."
In response to the events on Sept. 11, 2001, members from the band stood guard duty with military policemen here. This is one example of how they work hand in hand in a higher threatcon level.
While the band members have taken the necessary training, they will still stand the gates with military police to provide assistance.
The band members were not only tested on deadly force and the uses of it and giving cardio pulmonary resuscitation.
On the last day of their training, they also had to be sprayed with pepper spray.
"For the band members to be certified with the pepper spray, they have to be sprayed with it," Connor said. "We do this so that they know how it feels to be sprayed and they know what amount is necessary to affect someone."
Although sergeants and below were the only members from the band that were taking the training, their staff NCOs decided to do the pepper spray training with them.
"We discussed it and decided we should take part in this with them," said Staff Sgt. Jack Davis, enlisted conductor, Albany Marine Band.
Being sprayed was not the end though. After being sprayed they had to rotate through several stations and perform certain tasks such as upper body strikes, blocking, knee strikes and threat assessment.
"Going through the stations after being sprayed was one of the hardest parts," said Sgt. Douglas Groff, musician. "It was difficult to see, let alone having to perform certain tasks."
Over all the training was a success with the band members concluding their training Feb. 17.
"The band has been very supportive in assisting PMO, even though they had some other commitments," Connor said.
The band performed four shows while taking the course, including one the morning after being sprayed.
"It was difficult because the next morning some us still suffered the effects of the pepper spray," Davis said. "That made it a little more challenging than usual."
Besides being sprayed with pepper spray, many of the band members enjoyed all phases of the training.
"Learning to handcuff people was the best part for me," said Cpl. Sarah Walbring, musician. "I learned a lot and had the opportunity to do something I may never have got the opportunity to do. It's something different from playing music everyday," she concluded.