Training for Measured Response

By Captain Stephen A. Simpson, U.S. Marine Corps and Gunnery Sergeant Steven G. Carlson, U.S. Marine Corps

Comprehensive, in-depth training for these operations has become critical for operating forces from the four services and the Special Operations Command. Individual nonlethal weapons, designed to stop aggression with limited collateral damage to the local populace, resources, and environment, have been developed.

Nonlethals have been available for years—but the technology has continued to evolve. Resistance to the new technology on the battlefield continues, and some still believe that there is no need for nonlethal weapons—let alone a well-planned training program to support them. But nonlethal technology will continue to play an important role in peacekeeping missions, making proper training essential. Dr. Robert J. Bunker emphasized the importance of training: "[T]he introduction of nonlethal technology on the battlefield will be as significant as the introduction of gun powder during the European Renaissance."

Mission success always has depended on the quality of training. Mission success in future operations other than war will also depend on a high-quality training program that includes force continuum and the use of nonlethals. World War I taught us that fighting a war with 20thcentury technology and l9th-century tactics was costly. Without proper emphasis on tactics and training, we will find ourselves fighting with 21st-century technology and 20th-century tactics.

In 1995, Lieutenant General Anthony Zinni, U. S. Marine Corps, was tasked with protecting the final withdrawal of U.N. forces from Somalia. To conduct Operation United Shield, his organization explored the prospects of using nonlethals. Once the need was identified, a quick response to the task of fielding nonlethal capabilities became the issue. The military consulted civilian and federal law enforcement agencies, who were considered the subject matter experts in the use of nonlethals against a forceful, aggressive, but not quite "deadly" adversary. A nonlethal technology mobile training team (MTT) comprised of highly trained and skilled senior staff noncommissioned officers was formed under the auspices of the G-7, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), Camp Pendleton, California. Once deployed, integrated, and trained, Marines used this nonlethal capability in and around Mogadishu. Although the use of nonlethals was minimal, its effect was positive and proved the need to have this technology available to deploying forces.

Nonlethal weapons were a priority initiative in the Commandant of the Marine Corps' 1996 planning guidance. The Marine Corps' Warfighting Lab and other Headquarters Marine Corps-sponsored agencies continued to conduct research and experiments with contemporary and merging technologies within the nonlethal arena. One of these initiatives was to provide a "nonlethal capability set" as organizational equipment to each Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The experiment was time consuming and tedious, but resulted in a "suite" of gear procured and issued to the deploying Marine units. This equipment and philosophy initiated the requirement to train Marines in more than two options in the use of force—the "on-off switch" had to be replaced with a "dimmer switch." Training became a serious issue, not only for the servicemember responsible for using this technology, but for those who teach it.

At the 1997 Nonlethal Defense Conference II, General John J. Sheehan, U.S. Marine Corps, commented, "Whether it's U.S. forces in Somalia, IFOR [Implementation Force] troops in Bosnia, QFR [Quick Reaction Forces] in Panama or either Haiti or Guantanamo Bay Cuba, we have all faced operational situations where nonlethal weapons and capabilities were needed but unavailable."

The Applicability of Nonlethals

Nonlethal weapons have relatively reversible effects on personnel or material and/or affect objects differently within their area of influence. Nonlethals are developed to discourage, delay, or prevent hostile actions; limit escalation; take military action in situations where the use of lethal force is not preferred; better protect our forces; and temporarily disable equipment, facilities, and personnel. Because of this, substantial effort must be made to train forces in their use as they relate to tactical operations. Within a year of the Operation United Shield MTT, the nonlethal training capability that I MEF had experienced began to evaporate with the normal change-of-station orders and retirement of its members. I MEF G-7's nonlethal action officer harnessed the knowledge of these Marines and developed a training capability within the organization. Military Police Company, 1st Force Service Support Group, Camp Pendleton, California, organized and trained a nonlethal instructor cadre. Once institutionalized, they trained units within each MEU, but because a suite of nonlethal munitions did not exist to support such training, more time passed without fully capturing training, and a significant amount of collective corporate knowledge evaporated.

In compliance with recommendations and support of the I MEF G-7 nonlethal action officer, the Military Police School, Marine Corps Detachment, at Fort McClellan, Alabama, began to develop the Nonlethal Individual Weapons Instructor Course (NIWIC). In managing limited human resources, it is difficult to justify multiple training plans for different services. The NIWIC course has been proposed as the Department of Defense training standard.

There is a definite gap between "shoot" and "don't shoot." Nonlethal technology is the way to bridge that gap. Site visits, MTTs, and sending new equipment training teams (NETTs) to the operating theaters of Haiti, Bosnia, Hungary, and Germany, as well as visits to U.S. installations, established the requirements for training standards and tactics, techniques, and procedures for nonlethals.

What Training Is Needed?

The task at hand is to revisit the application of force in today's military operations and develop a program of instruction. Such a program must encompass all levels of the continuum of force as it relates to nonlethals, and be supported in theory as well as by law—whether in a courtroom or a news broadcast; it must consolidate "new equipment training" and tactics, techniques, and procedures training; and it must have Department of Defense-wide training standards to better support a joint commander and joint environment.

Based on these requirements, the initiative to develop a course to train the trainers began. The first step was to analyze training needs using the systems approach to a training model. In developing a training plan, this is the most critical phase, because the data obtained form the basis for the entire instructional process. With the assistance of numerous training organizations, operational units, and research-and-development agencies, the concept for NIWIC was drafted.

What should instructors know and be able to do? A course designed to enhance an instructor's knowledge, skills, and abilities must have instructors who are committed to students; know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects; are responsible for managing and monitoring learning; think systematically about their practice and learn from experience; and are members of learning communities.

Train the Trainers

Such a course provides the participant a full view of how and what instructors learn affects how and what they teach and train others. The need to develop a train-the-trainer program became clear. This would involve the development of individual training standards that would meet the requirement of training servicemembers with nonlethal weapons to support OOTW and SASO. But who needs such training?

The British Army has occupied Northern Ireland for more than 25 years and answered the question: corporals and below. Individual servicemembers and small unit leaders are the ones out there every day interacting with the locals. The corporals and below are the ones who manage food distribution points, occupy checkpoints and dismount points, and are the ones responsible for making split-second decisions involving the use of force. Obviously, the United States has enough power to counter any armed adversary and the training to support it. But how do they respond to the unarmed adversary? Built around the theory-of-force continuum, these standards satisfy the federal model as it relates to law enforcement and military operations other than war.

As the British experience in Northern Ireland shows, today's OOTW missions put servicemembers close to agitators and aggressors. Whether at a checkpoint in Portau-Prince or a food distribution point in Somalia, the space (stand-off distance) between locals and servicemembers does not always lend itself to using conventional methods should the use of force be necessary.

A soldier directing a crowd at a food distribution point unknowingly can agitate the group by what he says and how it is said over a bullhorn. Knowing how to apply verbal and nonverbal communications skills is important. A Marine at a checkpoint should be capable of defending himself against combative individuals without breaking bones or stomping on heads. Simple open-hand control techniques can make the difference. An airman with a riot control baton should be capable of more than just hitting people. Knowing proper striking techniques, striking points, defensive techniques, and control techniques is essential. Riot-control training has been available for years. Simple "romp 'n stomp" is somewhat effective when dealing with a crowd, riot, or mob—but knowing the difference between a crowd, riot, and mob also is important. Knowing what motivates a mob, what initiates a riot, and the potential effects of a crowd provides servicemembers with additional tools that prove helpful in dealing with these situations. Servicemembers trained in crowd dynamics clearly are an asset to the joint task force commander.

As former Marine Commandant General Al Gray commented, "a warrior's most formidable weapon is his mind." A servicemember's communication skills are the first stage of nonlethal capabilities. Servicemembers who deploy on peacekeeping missions must be trained and skilled communicators. Unfortunately, we see too few examples of persuasive communication skills. Dr. George Thompson, author of Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion , identified the most dangerous weapon in the street today as the "cocked tongue." He teaches the philosophy that the skilled communicator, regardless of the job, must learn to "respond—not react—to situations." Communication skills are an important tool, especially when using the bullhorn provided in the nonlethal capability sets issued to each MEU. If issued a bullhorn without formal training, servicemembers can establish their authority; issue orders; make threats; and create an environment where conflict is imminent.

The ancient Chinese strategist Sun-Tzu said, "to win 100 victories in 100 battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." Language barriers can present a problem for most operations and missions. This calls for the specialized service of skilled linguists. In addition, all servicemembers must understand and be able to apply the principles of sound communication.

Another area of special consideration is the training of individual contact teams. Properly trained in open-hand control techniques, impact weapons, restraints, and search, contact teams should be capable to go from 20 to 200 meters forward of the base-line element, to recover individuals and injured antagonists in civil-disorder operations. "An antagonist who dies from lack of medical attention is every bit as dead as the one who dies from a bullet" is a fact noted by Charles Heal, in the Marine Corps Gazette . Having forces equipped only with field gear and standard weapons could result in injuries to the servicemembers as well as individuals being controlled.

Special attention is a must when training and equipping these small-unit elements. Such skills are essential when dealing with aggressive individuals. There is a distinct difference between "Get out of here!" and "Would you mind leaving the area?"

The NIWIC program of instruction (POI) provides such training. Consisting of approximately 120 hours of instruction and practical exercises, the POI covers the full range of force, producing instructors who are certified, capable, equipped, and motivated to provide any operational commander with trained servicemembers. The program also provides a foundation upon which additional skills may be built. Eleven subcourses are included in the POI.

  • Force Continuum introduces students to the federal force-continuum model and the use of force. Upon completion, students will be able to instruct others on the force continuum and the escalation of force.
  • Crowd Dynamics and Crowd Control outlines the differences between crowds, mobs, and riots and teaches students basic crowd-control techniques to be applied to various situations. Upon completion, students will be able to instruct others on crowd dynamics and crowd-control techniques. Students will be familiarized with classical tactics and techniques, but also will consider nontraditional and small-unit applications.
  • Communication Skills teaches students how to instruct others on techniques of deescalating situations by using verbal skills and crisis-intervention techniques.
  • Oleoresin Capsicum Aerosol Training teaches how to instruct others safely and thoroughly on the uses of oleoresin capsicum aerosol sprays and other riot-control agents. Students will gain an appreciation for decontamination requirements, legal and policy considerations, and tactical considerations imposed by detainees and/or casualties.
  • Open-Hand Control teaches students to employ pressure-point control techniques; unarmed self-defense measures; weapon-retention techniques; and other submission, restraint, and search techniques.
  • Impact Weapons teaches students the uses of various impact-style weapons, including rigid straight batons, collapsible straight batons, side-handle batons, and riot-control batons.
  • Introduction to Military Working Dogs teaches students how to instruct on the role of military working dogs and the support available to forces requiring nonlethal force options.
  • Law of War and Rules of Engagement teaches how to instruct classic law of war and standard rules of engagement. Knowing that rules of engagement differ among individual operational theaters, instructors are encouraged to solicit support from assigned judge advocate general officers. The subcourse also shows how nonlethals should be viewed as they relate to rules of engagement and law of war.
  • Nonlethal Munitions and Employment teaches how to instruct on the use of nonlethal munitions available. Students will participate in live-fire exercises.
  • Barriers and Physical Security Measures teaches how to instruct others on barriers and physical security measures available to tactical forces that complement the use of nonlethal force or mitigate the need for deadly force.
  • Tactics teaches the student how to instruct others on mounted and dismounted tactics and civil disturbance as they relate to the use of nonlethal munitions.

Once trained in these courses, NIWIC students are evaluated as they establish "real-world" scenarios, enhancing their skills in executing a full nonlethal training exercise.

Nonlethal technology can reduce needless casualties, especially civilian fatalities. It is not a substitute for lethal force, but it is a necessity and should be part of the tool kit we provide to deploying forces. Training on the use of this tool kit must be substantial, practical, and consistent throughout all branches of the armed forces and supporting agencies.

Because of the wide variety of technologies and missions, the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate has been developed as the focal point for all Department of Defense nonlethal weapons activity. This joint office can have a positive effect on preventing the duplication of effort; the same should hold true with regard to training. A single, joint, formal, nonlethal instructors' course supported by the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate should be institutionalized, to support all services and the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Captain Steve Simpson is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Military Police Officers Advanced Course and has served as the Operations Officer, U.S. Army Basic Military Police Training Division and Operations Officer, Marine Corps Detachment, Fort McClellan, Alabama. At present, he is the nonlethal capabilities officer, Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, Quantico, Virginia.

Gunnery Sergeant Steven G. Carlson is an instructor in numerous defensive tactics systems, baton curricula, and edged-weapon defense programs. He is also a small-arms instructor and is currently the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Marine Military Police School Force Cell and senior force instructor, Marine Corps Detachment, Fort McClellan, Alabama.


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