Twentynine Palms -- In, out. In, out. In, out. That is the steady rhythm of the men’s breath as they slowly but swiftly approach a closed door, weapons at the ready. The lead man reaches the door and with a barely discernable movement, signals his team. Lightning quick, they move in.
The scenario, lead by the Combat Center’s Special Reaction Team, was part of a joint training event between them and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team at Range 800, July 12, 2016.
Similar to the Combat Center’s SRT, the Sheriff’s Department’s SWAT is a specialized unit trained to respond to crisis situations. Team members train weekly at the Sheriff’s Academy in Devore, Calif., and view cross-training aboard the installation as a means of harnessing their skills.
“Often times the training we do can become almost choreographed,” said Cpl. James Diaz, deputy, Sheriff’s Department. “Training in a different venue gets us to think outside the box.”
The training consists of teams using tactics to silently, swiftly and effectively enter and clear buildings. Once they’ve cleared the building, they debrief and go over what worked and what could have been done better. According to Sgt. Russell D. Harned, SRT commander, Provost Marshal’s Office, although this is the first time the installation conducted cross-training with San Bernardino County, they have hosted other local law enforcement agencies before.
“We have the biggest [military in operation urban terrain] facilities within the greater California area,” Harned said. “This training gives us a chance to learn how other special reaction teams train and it gives them a chance to see what the Marine Corps capability is.”
PMO and the Sheriff’s Department hope to continue training together and building upon their mutually beneficial relationship.
“Tactics are ever-evolving,” Diaz said. “To keep repeating the same tactics is to set yourself up for failure. We can learn a lot from the military personnel out here on how different tactics work in different environments and avoid becoming stagnant.”