POHANG, Republic of Korea -- Marines stand shoulder to shoulder, armed with riot shields, batons and protective gear as chanting from a crowd of rioters grow violent. With adrenaline high on both sides of the line, the protesters rush forward to break through the wall of Marines.
U.S. Marines from 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, 3rd Marine Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force and Republic of Korea Marines enhance their non-lethal tactics skills during riot control training, June 22, 2017, during Korean Marine Exchange Program 17-7 in Pohang, South Korea.
The focus of the training was to teach their ROK counterparts to deescalate a volatile crowd situation without resorting to lethal weapon use.
“Our overall goal was to make sure the ROK Marines and U.S. Marines knew the basic formations and understanding of a riot control,” said Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Morales, a non-lethal weapons instructor with 3rd LE Bn. “I wanted to make sure they knew how to handle their shield and equipment.”
The U.S. Marines instructed the ROK Marines on tactics and techniques with riot shields, such as shield integrity and the ability to break off from a formation to detain individuals.
“We taught the Marines how to use the riot shield formations, whether or not they want to disburse the crowd or push the crowd back,” said Morales. “We also showed them how to properly use their riot batons and how to appropriately utilize their bean bag rounds so they’re able to quell any type of situation.”
Training with the ROK Marines was an eye opening experience, said Morales.
“The ROK Marines were intense and they were motivated,” said Morales, an Amarillo, Texas native. “The last demonstration the ROK Marines put on for us was a phenomenal job. They executed the techniques well and they suppressed the situation quickly.”
Non-lethal force training such as the training 3rd LE Bn. conducted in South Korea serves as a vital capability to provide security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
“We need to be able to provide all types of law enforcement operations,” said Morales. “That is our job here - that is our sole purpose here. We are trying to teach [the ROK Marines] everything we possibly can. Riot control and non-lethal is part of that mission.”