Marines from 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force have been assigned to Task Force Koa Moana to bring non-lethal skill sets to give allied nations more capabilities than deadly force.
Task Force Koa Moana, sailing from Okinawa, Japan in late May, is comprised of Marines and sailors from various units from I and III MEF to increase interoperability and relations by sharing infantry, engineering, law enforcement and combat lifesaving skills in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Our main mission is to provide these host nations with the knowledge and capability sets for Taser, oleoresin capsicum (pepper) spray, riot control and less-than-lethal force,” said Cpl. Preston G. Thompson, a military policeman and chief non-lethal weapons instructor with Task Force Koa Moana, originally assigned to Charlie Company, 3rd LEB, III MEF.
The military policemen with the task force conducted their first iteration of non-lethal weapons training with the participating nation involving the X26 Taser, mechanical advantage control holds and other less-than deadly techniques with Timorese soldiers in Metinaro, Timor Leste, June 7-9, 2016, as part of Exercise Crocodilo 16.
“The mechanical advantage control holds and pressure-point techniques are good if you’re detaining someone who has been (OC) sprayed or is impaired,” said Hettinger, from Strawberry Point, Iowa. “These are techniques used to gain control of someone who is not going to be as combative.”
At first, the language barrier was intimidating, but the Timorese were eager to learn and retain the training.
“It’s basically gaining compliance through pain,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher M. Hettinger, a military policeman with the task force, originally assigned to Bravo Company, 3rd LEB, III MEF.
The non-lethal training syllabus provides students with the opportunity to not only learn the techniques, but experience the results of them to give the students a better understanding of how the techniques work and how they can be utilized.
“It feels great knowing that I’m going to pass on knowledge and capabilities to them that could possibly save their lives in the future,” said Thompson, from Wyoming, Michigan.
On his first deployment, to one of the youngest countries in the world, Hettinger felt his part in the mission was moving.
“It’s a heartwarming experience to show them what I know and to see their eyes light up when we show them something they’ve never seen before,” said Hettinger, recently promoted to lance corporal aboard USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2).