MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Marines with the Provost Marshal’s Office aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, underwent the Advanced Active Shooter Course, April 7 - 18, 2014.
“All of these (military policemen) have been through the Basic Active Shooter Course in their military occupational specialty school, but we are conducting advanced scenarios that are non-standard,” said Adam P. Stock, an instructor at Marine Corps Police Academy East. “We are trying to push the envelope a little bit and condition them to make decisions under stress during active shooter or active threat scenarios.”
To create stress needed to make training beneficial, Marines and instructors received airsoft pistols; replica firearms that shoot plastic pellets.
“Getting shot with an airsoft gun hurts and we don’t let them wear full padding so they know they are going to feel pain,” said Stock. “It’s what we call stress inoculation training. We teach them to fight through the disability of adrenaline.”
According to Stock, adrenaline obstructs a person’s decision making process and this fact proves to be no different for the Marines in training.
“Once they have eliminated the active threat, they have a hard time slowing down and getting into deliberate search mode; searching for any other possible threats in the area,” said Stock.
Mike McSwain, an instructor at Marine Corps Police Academy East, has a mantra for the Marines to help battle the tunnel vision adrenaline often creates.
“If they are moving too fast and the adrenaline is in control, they will miss things; that’s why I stress for them to breathe, assess and communicate,” said McSwain. “They need to breathe to bring the adrenaline down and while they are doing that, they need to assess the area. By assessing their surroundings, they are able to identify what is or what is not a threat area. Then to communicate is to work together as a team.”
McSwain’s mantra of breathe, assess and communicate is also a way for military policeman to stay in the police officer mindset during tense situations.
Unlike civilian law enforcement, Marines are riflemen first and most are drawn to the sound of gunfire, but fighting fire with fire is not always the right approach, said Stock.
“That’s the blessing and the curse of working with Marines,” said Stock. “They are combat oriented, so they have those combat reactions and they want to get into that fight, but that may not be what the mission calls for. I emphasize to them to know what the mission is, if it’s to save people or catch the bad guy.”
No matter what the scenario, the training PMO received better prepared them to protect the residents of MCAS Iwakuni and their future duty stations.