Atsugi sailors feel the burn during MP ‘crash course’
August 21, 2006
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan — On day three, the training turned tortuous.
That was the day sailors volunteering to serve as Auxiliary Security Forces at Atsugi learned they would get a blast of fiery pepper spray to the eyes.
Blinded by tears and dribbling mucus, they then ran through five stations to practice controlling their weapons against an assailant, handcuffing someone, and physically defending themselves while in searing pain.
The training helps make the experience more realistic, to teach them to stay calm even if they are hurting, said Jim Dabney, lead instructor for Homeland Security Solutions, Inc., the company that does most of the monthlong training.
“If they get sprayed on the job, they don’t just quit and get milk” to soothe the pain, he said.
The training does more than torture sailors. They learn how to take down a bad guy — bare handed, with a baton and even with a weapon.
Out of two dozen in the class, just four had fired a rifle before, Dabney said. Most hadn’t shot a pistol since boot camp. During the training, they go to the range to qualify on pistols, rifles and shotguns.
They also learn to inspect vehicles and people, identify improvised bombs and how to clear a room. The class covers terrorism, rules of deadly force and basic security.
“This is really a crash course,” Dabney said.
However, he predicted, no one will fail: “We’re going to make sure they’ve got it.”
After three weeks with the trainers, the sailors spend a week with Atsugi’s security force to learn skills specific to Japan, such as jurisdictional issues and how to drive emergency vehicles.
Auxiliary forces augment the Navy’s base security and can be called up for special events or emergencies. They serve a watch about twice a month and do regular refresher training, said Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Shenk, master-at-arms and lead petty officer for the security training.
To train auxiliary forces, the Navy switched this year to a contractor, Homeland Security Solutions, which is comprised entirely of former military and law enforcement officials.
Three-man teams tour Navy bases offering the training. Dabney’s team and two others based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, are responsible for the training at all Navy bases in Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Diego Garcia, Dabney said.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard J. Micucci, a culinary specialist at the Far East Cafe, said the opportunity to fire weapons, learn law enforcement skills and spice up his otherwise routine job enticed him to volunteer for the auxiliary force.
As for the pepper spray, he said he thought the horror stories people told him were exaggerations. But it was every bit as bad as people say, Micucci confirmed.
“I’m glad to have the experience, though,” he said.