By Lance Cpl. Paul Peterson
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.– Special reaction teams stand poised to deliver tactical support to Marine Corps. The teams act as small, tactically proficient units designed to respond to a variety of security and law enforcement threats.
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is no exception to these threats, and now it is home to the first Headquarters Marine Corps certified course designed to train SRT personnel aboard a Marine base.
“Each Marine Corps installation has a need and is required by the law enforcement manual to maintain a special reaction team capability,” said Maceo B. Franks, the executive director for Marine Corps Police Academy East and HQMC’s East Coast senior law enforcement coordinator. “One of the problems we have run into in the past is a difficulty in acquiring enough school seats. Headquarters Marine Corps has decided to pull together our resources and put on and sponsor our own Special Reaction Team course.”
It is a first for the Marine Corps. Before the SRT school aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, Marine and civilian SRT members were trained at other schools such as the one at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. The new school is designed to help fill the training needs of Marine Corps installations, augmenting the training that is done at the other facilities.
Franks said the search for a suitable location to train SRT personnel lead them to MCB Camp Lejeune, where they can make use of the resources aboard the Stone Bay rifle range and Lejeune’s urban terrain training facilities.
The school, which will graduate its first class in April, also trains civilian law enforcement, said Franks. Some Marine installations partner with local law enforcement to fulfill their SRT requirement in the way of memorandum of agreements. Since the Marines and civilians may face threats while working together in the field, the school trains its students to operate in a blended environment.
“We want to ensure that both civilians and military police working side by side on the same team have the same tactics and training,” said Franks. “What people don’t realize when they look at an SRT member is that that person has been trained in additional special tactics as it relates to going out and performing law enforcement missions. They may be asked to perform at a higher standard than a traditional officer.”
Each member receives training on various weapons systems, communication, breaching equipment, casualty care, stronghold assaults, hostage rescue and a host of other small unit tactics.
Both civilian and military students are required to perform a first-class physical fitness test and qualify as expert on both the pistol and rifle range.
The current class consists of 30 students who will have to complete three weeks of training to receive certification. The course itself went through a pilot phase last August to determine where it could be improved.
“We got back very positive feedback and it was more so in what additional tactics we need to include and what would not be as relevant to our Marines and civilian personnel,” said Franks. “So we trimmed the fat and we came up with a three-week curriculum.”
The blended training teaches the students how to work as a team. They are given periods of instruction followed by the chance to hone their skills on the range and in tactical exercises.
The teamwork is important because units are only as strong as their weakest link, said Franks. They will rely on each other in the field, and the blended training allows the various law enforcement personnel to work together.
Franks also said there are plans to expand the training. In addition to three annual SRT classes of around 30 students, the school will also conduct three certifying courses in SRT leadership, command and marksmanship. Plans also include a possible school on the West Coast in the near future.