CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Two Marines held security outside a pink building while a Marine pied his weapon through one of the windows. “Get down on the ground, get down on the ground,” shouted two Marines from inside the structure.
Moments later, the security detail signaled to rejoin their team and finish clearing the compound.
As they entered the building they shouted, “Hot,” to identify themselves as friendly.
“Chocolate!” shouted their team in response.
Together, the Marines formed a tactical stack and continued their search.
In preparation for Koa Moana, Marines with Company B, 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted military operations in urban terrain, along with various tactical offensive training at Camp Pendleton over a five-day period beginning Feb. 29.
Koa Moana is a three-month deployment designed to enhance senior military leader engagements between allied and partner nations. U.S. forces travel to various countries who share a mutual interest in military-to-military relations and enhancing interoperability.
“We are sending out two law enforcement teams with an officer-in-charge and having them provide whatever skill is required,” said 1st Lt. Shawn M. Reynolds, executive officer of Company B, 1st LE Bn. “The biggest things that are requested from us typically, are criminal and Marine police investigation skills and physical security, focusing on safety of the ship in port.”
It is essential for Marine Police to attach to units, as they are the subject matter experts of indepth military police training.
They have military working dogs, a criminal investigation department, military police investigators, physical security specialists, special response team Marines and non-lethal weapons specialist. Whatever bilateral skill sets a unit or the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force would like to employ, the LED would be able to provide, according to Reynolds.
“We started on Monday, going over small concepts like patrolling and using [night vision devices],” said Sgt. Johnathan A. Morris, a military policeman with Company B, 1st LE Bn. “Then we built these small concepts into larger training operations like platoon assaults, room clearing, and fire team immediate action drills.”
This training is important because it refreshes basic rifleman skills that Marine police officers are often separated from due to their garrison provost marshal responsibilities.
“There are two sides to being a military police officer. There is the [PMO] side, the [military police] you see at the gates and deal with traffic cases,” said Cpl. Tayler A. Kunkle, a military policewoman with Company B, 1st LE Bn. “The other side is the field side, where you deploy, handle prisoners of war, and provide physical security for whatever unit you are attached to.”
The training allows for a smooth integration from law enforcement tasks to operating with supported units.
“When a unit we support requests us, they’re not asking for infantry skills, they’re asking for the military police skills,” said Reynolds, a native of College Station, Texas. “But when [military police] attach to infantry units, we want them to have some knowledge of how the infantry operates so they can easily inject themselves and be competent.”
The course also teaches the importance of tactical site exploitation, collecting information from a designated location and analyzing it to facilitate operations.
“We realize that training is successful when the Marines can communicate with each other without direct supervision,” said Morris, a native of Greensboro, North Carolina. “For the lance corporals and corporals we have here in Bravo Company, this means being able to gather information effectively and relay that information to the combat operations center.”
The Marines were challenged and put into management roles in an effort to get them accustomed to leading law enforcement teams.
“I am a new noncommissioned officer and the instructors have been putting me in charge of the law enforcement teams,” said Kunkle, a native of Stayton, Oregon. “I am usually the one who sits back and is told what to do. It has been a real eye-opener for me being in control of the radio, picking when we are going to go to the destination and picking where my team will be placed during security halts.”
The battalion offers a wide variety of skill sets, which makes them force multipliers to whatever unit they become attached to.
Completion of this training takes the Marines one step closer to being ready to support Koa Moana.