Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, GA --
An agitated individual aggressively approaches a Security Augment Force Marine with the intent to do harm. The SAF Marine pushes the individual back, yelling “get back, get back,” while simultaneously reaching for simulated Oleoresin Capsicum spray, also known as pepper spray.
In the blink of an eye, the person receives a blast of OC spray to the face and stops immediately in his tracks. The individual sprayed, played by another SAF Marine, wiped the red juice-like liquid, from his face.
This is one of many practice scenarios conducted during the OC spray training hosted by Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Marine Corps Police Department, Oct. 27. Seventeen MCLB Albany Marines participated in the weeklong SAF training held here, Oct. 24-28.
After receiving instructions on how to navigate the OC course, it was time for the Marines to put what they learned to the test.
One at a time, instructors lined up the augmentees, stood three paces away and sprayed real OC in their faces. The spray ran down their foreheads and into their eyes, causing them to immediately close. The Marines exhibited uncontrollable tearing, coughing, choking plus an extreme burning sensation on any exposed skin from the OC spray.
After being sprayed, the augmentees had to navigate through an obstacle course of Marines holding pads, representing potential attackers. The SAF Marines fought through the course blindly throwing punches, knee strikes and baton strikes.
The Marines were then taken to a medical aid station where their eyes and faces were washed with water and soap.
For Pfc. Jailyn Dennis, administrative clerk, Military Personnel Branch, MCLB Albany, this was her first time being exposed to OC spray.
“It’s not bad at first because you don’t feel it right away since your eyes are closed, but when it hit me, it felt like my face was on fire,” she said. “I couldn’t open my eyes at all. Being in the sun made it worse because it added heat, and if you were not mad already, you were after you felt it.”
“You don’t have to spray half the bottle into someone’s eyes,” Dennis continued. “All it takes is one second of pressure and he or she will definitely feel it right away.”
Rob McAllister, instructor, Homeland Security Solutions, MCPD, said, the purpose of the OC training was to make the Marines understand that even though they were contaminated with the spray, they could still continue to function and provide security.
The training emphasized when engaging a suspect, it is not always shoot to kill, according to Gunnery Sgt. Adam Iudiciani, provost sergeant, MCPD.
“The objective is for the Marines to assess the situation and ask themselves if they can de-escalate a situation using the continuum of force, presence, verbally, escort/compliance techniques, baton, oleoresin capsicum spray or do they need to go straight to deadly force,” he said.
The purpose of the weeklong SAF training was to instruct Marines how to augment the military police in providing an overall security of the installation, according to Iudiciani.
Capt. John Scholl, company commander, Headquarters and Support Company, MCLB Albany, said the command’s goal is for all sergeants and below to be part of the SAF training.
“The usage of OC spray in training is important for the SAF personnel to understand the effectiveness of the compliance technique,” Scholl said. “OC spray can be utilized as a distraction or alternate means of force. By experiencing the spray firsthand, it reinforces the necessity for the SAF Marines to utilize restraint when applying incapacitation devices.”
The training of SAF personnel is mission essential to MCLB Albany, according to the company commander.
“Trained SAF Marines will be used to augment MCPD during potential force protection condition escalations and execute other security-related operations for the installation commander as directed,” he said.
Dennis shared some advice for those who challenge law enforcement officials.
“If you are in a situation where OC spray is drawn, just cooperate,” she said. “I promise that’ll be the best option.”