Sailors endure intensive, painful pepper-spray drill
CAMP SHIELDS, Okinawa — Face scrunched with anticipation and hands clenched, sailors one by one Wednesday let the stream of pepper spray coat their eyes.
Then came the jumping, shaking and sometimes yelping or cursing.
With blurry vision and nothing on their brains but the burning sensation in their eyes, the sailors each had to kick, punch, block and hit at different drill stations before finding the sweet relief of a hose to wash the pepper spray away.
“That was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Antonio Williams.
He and 13 other sailors are going through three weeks of intensive security training this month as the Navy on Okinawa strives to meet its target number of Auxiliary Security Forces members.
Command Fleet Activities Okinawa currently has 16 trained members but needs about 30 to provide adequate help to the permanent Naval Security Force during high threat levels, according to Petty Officer 1st Class Jose Cisnado, CFAO’s Auxiliary Security Force coordinator.
The auxiliary members come from an array of jobs, such as aviation warfare and the post office. Each command has to provide a certain percent of the auxiliary force, Cisnado said, noting that many are volunteers who have an interest in law enforcement.
In March, a private company took over auxiliary security forces training duties for the Navy from the Marine Corps.
Three-man teams from Hawaii-based Homeland Security Solutions are contracted to conduct training at each naval base twice a year, said retired Marine Jim Dabney, a lead instructor for the company. Homeland Security Solutions already has been to many bases in the Pacific, including Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Sasebo Naval Base and Yokosuka Naval Base in mainland Japan.
The pepper-spray drill is part of the first week’s defensive tactic training.
“We do it so if they’re on patrol and they get sprayed in the face, they don’t just quit; they’ll fight through it and accomplish the mission,” Dabney said, adding that the experience also makes sailors more careful with the spray.
The second week of training deals with weapons and the third with quick reactionary force. Among other drills, the sailors will go through a practical weapons course, conduct room clearance and do vehicle inspections.
“They learn the different aspects of security,” Dabney said. “It gives them a wide range of abilities, so instead of being stuck at a gate they can be called to help out somewhere else.”