May 29, 2014 --
The sound of rounds impacting their targets could be heard throughout the Base Pistol Range as the smell of gunpowder drifted down the firing line.
This was the scene as 16 Marines from various commands throughout Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany completed the Marine Corps Police Department’s marksmanship qualification course.
The course, part of the Security Augment Force training hosted by MCPD, was comprised of shooting a Beretta M9 pistol and M1014 semi-automatic shotgun from various positions including standing, kneeling and prone as well as shotgun sustainment training.
“The SAF training plays an important role in the defense of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany by providing additional armed, trained and disciplined Marines to assist civilian police officers in law enforcement operations,” Rob McAllister, instructor, Homeland Security Solutions, MCPD, said. “The purpose of the two-week SAF training is to instruct augmentees how to assist civilian police in providing security at the main and back gates, performing perimeter checks with tactical vehicles and checking identification cards of people entering the base.”
These Marines could also be called upon to assist with ongoing force protection measures if needed, he said.
Augmentees will not have inherent authority, however, if they are present in the event of an arrest they are prepared and authorized to assist in an apprehension. The SAF Marines can also provide testimony in a subsequent judicial proceeding, McAllister added.
Marines completed a training schedule filled with classes on security, law enforcement skills, deadly force, detention authority and non-lethal force techniques, including baton and pepper spray.
According to the SAF instructors, this was the first time for most of the augmentees to be exposed to deadly force.
Sgt. Donnato Leon, supply administrative specialist, Garrison Supply Branch, Logistics Support Division, MCLB Albany, said the SAF training gave him a different perspective about law enforcement.
“I always wondered what the police officers were doing when I saw them drive up and down the road,” he said. “Now, after taking the training, I understand they are being vigilant because their whole purpose or mission here is to keep us safe.”
Leon said he is proud of being a part of a unit that helps keep the base workforce and residents safe.
The newly-trained SAF Marine said there is a big difference between dealing with administrative paperwork in his daily job than with the general public.
“Performing as a SAF Marine, you have to make sure the person you are dealing with is looking at you and that he or she is paying attention to what you are saying,” he said. “If you make an arrest, you have to look for signs of a person being defensive or passive. Each person has rights so you have to make sure you go through the proper procedures and not violate a person’s rights.”
SAF Marines will also receive continuation training in CPR, first aid and more, according to McAllister.
In addition to weapons training, the Marines were also exposed to oleoresin capsicum spray, also known as OC spray, a chemical compound commonly used for riot control that irritates the eyes causing tears, pain and even temporary blindness.
Marines were sprayed in the face with OC and had to navigate through an obstacle course of Marines holding pads, who simulated attackers.
With swollen, irritated eyes filled with tears and exposed skin feeling tight and itchy, Marines fought through the course blindly throwing punches, knee strikes and baton strikes. With guidance from an instructor, each augmentee completed the course before being taken to the medical aid station where their eyes and faces were washed with water and soap.
“This is a two-prong effect,” McAllister said. “We want them to understand the effects OC has on a person so they are more cautious in making the decision to use it. Secondly, the Marines know that even though they are contaminated, they still can continue to function and provide security.”
Pfc. Ethan Kortie, administrative specialist, Military Personnel, MCLB Albany, said his worst experience of the course was being sprayed with OC.
“I don’t want to go through that ever again,” he said. “It was terrible.”
All Marines passed the SAF training and received their certification in the OC course.