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SAF keeps military police ranks strong

17 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

The Security Augmentation Force Marines were trained on deadly force procedures Oct. 17, at the Provost Marshal’s Office classroom.   

Military police and Combat Center civilian law enforcement instructors train SAF Marines on tactics and procedures using shortened versions of training real MP’s receive in their military occupational school. 

“The SAF Marines are not actual MP’s,” said Sgt. Justin Wells, training chief with PMO and a native of Phoenix.  “The augment Marines are trained so they have a basic understanding of how MP’s go about their job.  When we need them, they are activated to make our numbers greater for a given task which would not be possible to handle with our normal numbers.”

SAF Marines are volunteers from resident units who train and stand duties as military police.  The SAF exists to increase PMO’s numbers in time of need, said Wells. 

Wells added the influx of new Marines in the SAF requires this kind of refresher training throughout their education process, which is to be given monthly, quarterly or yearly.

Marines such as Cpl. J.B. Davis, a squad leader with SAF, participate regularly in the training.

“The augmentation force is made up by mostly, if not completely, Marines assigned to Headquarters Battalion,” said the Vincennes, Ind., native.  

Davis added the Marines in SAF are all eager to volunteer and undergo their training for the program. 

“All the Marines we have in SAF are really motivated to get their training and be part of the augmentation force,” he said. 

Davis added even though the SAF Marines do stand watch at the gates like normal MP’s, they are also trained to be utilized in many different scenarios.

“Aspects of their training teach them how to handle things like a large riot, or even a natural disaster or terrorist attack,” he explained.  “Training them to be used during heightened security times is important.  Catastrophic events or any disaster that would require large numbers from PMO are what they’re trained for, of course along with their duties of standing at the gates.”

Russell Elswick, a Homeland Security Solutions Inc. instructor and a native of Beaumont, Calif., was one of the instructors who trained SAF Marines Oct. 17. 

The most important points Elswick tried to drive home to the Marines were the pre-conditions and actions of a suspect when you attempt to use deadly force, and the main types of suspects a Marine on patrol may encounter when on duty.

“Deadly force is a force which causes serious bodily harm or death,” Elswick said.  “Warning shots are not authorized, especially when you are standing duty at the gate.”

Elswick named off traits patrolmen on duty should be familiar with when they encounter suspects. 

“Most all criminals fall into several categories of resisters,” he told the class.  “The easiest to work with are those who are what we call compliant. They listen to the commands you give them and they never attack you in a verbal or physical manner.”

Elswick continued with passive resisters, who are the next step up in the level of aggression. Passive resisters do not listen to verbal commands, they verbally attack whoever is trying to apprehend them, but not physically. 

Active resisters are the second most difficult to deal with, Elswick said.  They don’t listen to verbal commands. They physically resist during apprehension, but do not try to harm anyone. They’re just trying to escape. 

Elswick finished with the worst type of suspect one can encounter -- the assailant. They do not listen to what they are told, and they physically attack. This is where a patrolman may need to use non-lethal weapons.

Much time is spent in a training environment for the SAF Marines.  Knowledge is helpful in any situation, and Elswick drove home the point that if they are better trained and mentally prepared they will be able to duplicate the success of full time military police and do their part in keeping the streets safe.   


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms