Civilian Contractors prepare for deployment with Marines

30 Jan 2003 | Sgt. L.A. Salinas

Most people know Marines are thoroughly trained how to survive war and make sure the enemy doesn't. Civilian military contractors for the Marine Corps are also trained in survival techniques.

Before and during their support to fight the war on terrorism, contractors of every job type are trained in areas that can save their lives.

"We are doing anti-terrorism, force protection, country, culture and threat briefs to give personnel deploying to Kuwait the tools necessary to ease their transition," said Gunnery Sgt. Robert J. Andrews, Nuclear, Biological, Chemical chief, I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, 32, from Oceanside.

Many of the civilians who are preparing to go overseas have experience in deploying, but agree the training they are getting now is a vast improvement.

"The technology and the training are better," said Jeffrey Hale, 45, a civilian contractor with Advanced Vehicle Systems. "Being a contractor now with prior military experience makes it easier to adapt to the lifestyle."

The retired Marine master sergeant from Oceanside, has past experience with deployments, and insists the training is invaluable.

"A lot of the contractors are extremely interested, not only in anti-terrorism and force protection, but also on the NBC measures," said Andrews. "We have been doing a lot of training for these contractors...outfitting them with the proper gear, training them and essentially making them a part of the team."

Andrews, who has recently spent 13 months in the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility, including 11 months in Kuwait, covered driving and hostage situations in his briefs to "basically to bring their level of awareness up concerning some of the threats they may face going in country."

The shooting deaths of two American civilians near a U.S. military camp in Kuwait, is a scenario Andrews has been using since last year.

"The information I have included in these briefs in the last four months stayed the same," said Andrews. "I use the recent events to drive the point home. Unfortunately, a lot of the examples I have used have happened."

With this type of training, it would be harder for future situations to occur and some civilian contractors and some would like to take the Marines mindset of "training is continuous."

"Maybe there should be some reoccurring training, not just now but something continuous," said Hale. "There is no room for complacency. One person who is under-skilled may potentially hurt others."

Andrews emphasizes that the civilians need to be aware of what's going on around them, and be aware of their surroundings, making themselves a "hard target."

Civilian contractors are beneficial to the Marine Corps as they free up Marines from jobs that could keep them away from the battlefield.