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Marines prepare for NOLES '11

US Marine Corps News

By Sgt. Heather Brewer, Marine Corps Bases Japan

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- Marines and sailors with Special Operations Training Group and Military Police Support Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, participated in sustainment training here in preparation for the Non-Lethal Weapons Executive Seminar 2011 May 23–26.

NOLES ‘11, which is scheduled to take place May 30 – June 10 in Chonburi, Thailand, is U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific’s premiere multilateral theater security cooperation event for non-lethal weapons and is designed to promote awareness of non-lethal weapons used to maintain order in low-intensity scenarios. Due to the significant variance of non-lethal weapons capabilities from country to country, the seminar seeks to improve interoperability between partner nations.

Non-lethal weapons are explicitly designed to incapacitate equipment and personnel while minimizing fatalities and permanent injuries.

“The capabilities of our non-lethal weapons in general are preferred during rescue missions, or for force protection in civil disturbances,” said Capt. Jesse A. Atay, the assistant branch head of the Expeditionary Warfare Branch and the NOLES ‘11 detachment officer-in-charge. “They can also be used to control rioting prisoners of war or in situations during which civilians are used to mask a military attack.”

The training was held to expose new personnel to non-lethal weapons and to reacquaint instructors with the courses before deploying in support of the exercise.

“We are conducting instructor sustainment training for all the courses we will be teaching while we are in Thailand,” said Staff Sergeant Frederick Gladle, training chief for MP Support Company. “It refreshes the instructors on course criteria and allows them time to prepare course materials like handouts, waivers and equipment.”

The four-day event included classes and practical application sessions given by current SOTG instructors on the human electro-muscular incapacitation device, also known as an X-26 Taser, and oleoresin capsicum spray, more commonly called OC spray.

“The training we are doing keeps our instructors proficient in their areas of expertise,” said Sgt. Jason Davids, a squad leader with MP Support Company. “It also gives them a chance to impart their knowledge on these subjects to our assistant instructors who aren’t yet certified.”

Instructor sustainment and education was not the only goal, however.

“Having first-hand experiences with these weapons stops the fear of the unknown and lets the trainees know they will be able to get up afterward,” said Gladle. “It gives them confidence that the weapon works while tempering that confidence with the knowledge of what their opponent feels when they use the weapon on someone.”

For those who had never been tased, the experience was a bit nerve-wracking.

“This was the first time I’ve ever been through anything like that,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Byron Fjeld, a corpsman with SOTG here. “It was a pretty intense pain, but it was worth it. Now, if I have to treat people who have been tased or sprayed with OC, I will know what they are going through. I wouldn’t do it again unless I had to though.”

While participating in NOLES ‘11, the Marines and the Thai Army will conduct training events using tasers and OC spray, along with other military exercises.

“We’ll be doing defensive tactics, military operations on urban terrain exercises, mechanical advantage control hold classes and courses on non-lethal munitions like crowd-dispersing rounds and 12-gauge bean-bag shotgun rounds alongside the Thai Army,” said Gladle.

NOLES is an opportunity for all participating nations to strengthen military-to-military partnerships.

“These exercises strengthen our relationships with our partner nations,” said Atay. “Shared training fosters camaraderie -- we will get to see how they do things, and they will get see how we do things. We are really looking forward to the exchange of ideas in regards to non-lethal capabilities.”

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