Photo Information

Cpl. Scott Reel, combat correspondent with I Marine Expeditionary Force, from Naperville, Ill., feels the effects Oleoresin Capsicum spray as a part of non-lethal weapons training aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 4. After being sprayed, the Marines run a detaining course to ensure they can complete their mission while being contaminated.

Photo by Cpl. Scott Reel

Marines prepare for 31st MEU with escalation of force training

10 Feb 2014 | Cpl. Scott Reel

Instructors from 1st Law Enforcement Battalion provided Marines from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, with non-lethal weapons training aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. Feb. 4.

Before deploying with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, the Marines receive a variety of pre-deployment training, part of which being a weeklong non-lethal weapons package.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Nilsby, training chief for 1st LEB, said he will never forget the first time he received his training and doubts the Marines he trained will either. 

“From a training standpoint, it increases the tools for the commander to use to prevent the need to use lethal force,” Nilsby said. “They train how to handle the tools they are prepared to use.”

The training is anything but a check in the box. The non-lethal weapons package is a week that provides classroom knowledge on escalation of force, different non-lethal munitions, riot control formations, a course of fire using non-lethal rounds, ending with Oleoresin Capsicum spray and Taser acclimatization. 

“Getting OC sprayed was one of the most miserable experiences I’ve ever encountered—I don’t even know how to describe it,” Nilsby said. “I was only able to begin functioning after about an hour.”

OC spray consists of concentrated chemicals from peppers, much more potent than regular pepper spray. The substance gets into the victim’s mucus membranes, makes it difficult to breathe and temporarily incapacitates them for, at minimum, 30 minutes.

Capt. Scott Dibello, officer with 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, led his Marines in the painful OC spray and Taser training.

“There are situations as a commander you are better used directing the orchestra, and there are situations where the example you set by leading will set a tone for the operation,” Dibello said. “Being the first Marine to go through the training and come out calm and collected allowed the Marines to see that it’s not the end of the world.”

Chaos is the best test of how strong a unit and its leadership is, something the OC spray and Taser training made an example of.

“The Marines performed and continue to perform beyond my expectations,” Dibello said. “The non-commissioned officers set the expectations for their Marines and lead from the front.”