MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marine reservists with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12-2 graduated Oct. 26 after two weeks learning a new set of skills with Marine Corps Police Academy East aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
The SPMAGTF Marines were activated for their deployment to Africa to support missions for Marine Forces Africa and U.S. Africa Command partnering with defense forces across Africa to bring new skills and build on old ones. They were also representing the U.S. by building relationships to facilitate working with regional partners.
The reserve Marines received orders for the usual 400 days in order to complete their six-month deployment and all training incorporated with the deployment. Upon completion, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps made sure the Marines could finish out their orders to be eligible for GI Bill and Veteran’s benefits. In the interim, many of the Marines were augmented into billets for military law enforcement.
“We were tasked with getting Special Purpose MAGTF 12-2 ready to provide security augments for various Marine Corps installations across the Corps,” said Maceo Franks, the executive director of Marine Corps Police Academy East. “It was a very unique experience.”
While Marine Corps Police Academy East holds courses continuously teaching Marines who primarily work in law enforcement as well as Marines who work in other job fields, they never taught reservists immediately after a deployment. The Marines of SPMAGTF 12-2 received training for their newest mission, augmenting military law enforcement, in a central location ensuring they will all have the knowledge they need as soon as they arrive to assist at installations throughout the Corps.
They were looking forward to their new duties and excited for the opportunity. “These Marines can fall right in,” said Franks. “They can put on their gear and be ready to work.”
The students came from a wide variety of civilian and military employment. Marines who work as cooks and mechanics rubbed elbows with infantry and intelligence Marines.
“It may be completely outside of what they do in the civilian world or the Marine Corps, but they tackle it the same way any Marine tackles a mission,” said Dan Bertrand, an instructor of the course. “They are full-on, good to go and hard charging.”
Throughout the course, the Marines learned about the continuum of force, entry control point operations, defensive tactics, laws, traffic enforcement, how to handle an active shooter, law enforcement history, the organization of the Provost Marshal’s Office, authority, jurisdictions, interpersonal and law enforcement communication, and marksmanship along with many other skills. They were also certified with a baton and oleoresin capsicum spray, otherwise known as pepper spray.
“It’s a win-win,” said Franks. “They get to spend more time on active status while learning a new skill, and we get additional manpower to provide security for our installations. When they go back to their units they will have additional capabilities and more flexibility to be placed anywhere. As a Corps, it gives us additional resources to pull from.”
The school brought in instructors from various installations to teach the course. Some instructors came from a civilian law enforcement background, some military and at least one experienced in both.
“The class better prepares them to augment and work alongside police officers,” said Franks. With the mission in Africa being so diverse, the Marines needed to become more familiar with law enforcement for a state-side installation, which was necessary to take on the mission of protecting service members on their home turf.
The class taught a condensed version of what military law enforcement personnel learn.
“We’re getting a crash course, but everybody is learning really well,” said Cpl. Adwin Esters, a combat correspondent who deployed with Special-Purpose MAGTF 12-2.
Ray Geller, an instructor of the course, felt it was imperative for the Marines to learn as much as they could.
“There’s a high level of liability involved in law enforcement,” said Geller. “If they don’t have the right tools they are at a disadvantage. We give them a basic tool kit for the job.”
While in Africa the Marines taught the local service members a variety of skills, and it now was their turn to fulfill the role of student.
“We did a lot of good work in Africa,” said Esters. “Now we’ll be able to help out different Marine Corps bases.”