Balikatan 2009: Okinawa Marines give Philippine troops a sample of how nonlethal force works
April 26, 2009
FORMER CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines — U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Luis Rosado believes in making training as realistic as possible.
A group of Filipino troops tucked behind their riot shields figured that out quickly Friday as Rosado, a nonlethal weapons instructor, launched a tire at them and repeatedly rushed the shields like a whirling, shouting one-man protest.
"I bring the fun to the training," said Rosado, one of 10 members of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operations Training Group in the Philippines to train the 600th Air Base Wing’s Filipino troops in conjunction with the ongoing annual Balikatan exercise.
Drenched in sweat and bleeding from a spot or two, Rosado stressed the importance of what he was doing.
"If you make sure it’s as realistic as possible in training," he said, the students will react the correct way in a real-world situation.
Capt. David Fenbert, in charge of the Marines, said the goal was to teach the Filipinos about nonlethal weapons and techniques on the sprawling area that was once Clark Air Base.
As his instructors shouted directions, and the trainees fired beanbags and foam rounds on Rigos Firing Range, Fenbert explained how effective the equipment can be.
"You definitely know you got hit," he said of the beanbag round fired out of the 12-gauage shotgun.
And while they’re not lethal, the rubber-ball grenades were as loud as their deadlier counterparts. The explosion, and the rubber-ball pellets, are effective in big group situations, Fenbert said.
"When you’ve got a big crowd agitated and moving at you," the nonlethal grenade would be a good choice, he said.
Gunnery Sgt. Dennis Dodd, the senior enlisted Marine, said the students are going through a 10-day course introducing them to such things as pepper spray, tasers, baton training and foam M-203 grenade-launcher rounds.
"This gives a commander more capabilities and options," Dodd said.
Balikatan is scheduled through April 30. According to the military, it will consist of humanitarian and civic-assistance work, a combined staff exercise and field training.