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Task Force Gladiator and German Army MP's work together during riot control training

24 Sep 2002 | Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

"Five steps forward shuffle," says the section commander. "Five steps forward shuffle," replies the section. "One, two, three, four, five, get back," shouts the section as it moves forward tapping its batons on the large shields trying to push back a group of angry protestors. As the protestors begin to move back they suddenly turn and begin throwing rocks and water bottles at the Marines.

Then someone throws a can of orange smoke and the protestors try to break through the line of Marines. The Marines hold the line after a brief skirmish and as the protestors retreat and prepare to make another surge forward a snatch team, comprised of German Soldiers from the Multi-National Brigade South Military Police Company, move forward and grad one of the leaders of the protestors.

This scene was replayed several times Sept. 24 as Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)'s Task Force Gladiator, comprised of the Combined Anti-Armor Team and Light Armored Reconnaissance Platoon from Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines, worked with a group of German military policemen. Together, the group conducted riot control training in Prizren, Kosovo.

"We are conducting riot control training to facilitate joint interoperability with the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) and the main body," said Maj. Jeffery C. Holt, commanding officer, Weapons Co. "This training will make sure we are mission ready."

To add realism to the training, more than 20 Marine aggressors played the part of the angry protestors.

For the scenario, the aggressors were protesting the U.S. military's presence and were trying to get into their camp to destroy it.

To quell the protestors, the Marines and Germans parked their respective Light Armored Vehicles at different points in the road to block the entrance into the Marine Camp. The Marines set up a sniper team and medical personnel prepared to handle any potential casualties.

As the protestors began gathering and moving forward, the Marines deployed the main body, carrying batons and shields to push the protestors back. The protestors responded by shouting at the Marines and telling them to "go home!"
As the Marines pushed forward, the protestors moved back and things seemed to calm down for a few minutes. Then, just as things looked to be easing up rocks and water bottles began flying through air. As the missiles pelted the Marines and bounced off their shields, the reserve force was deployed forward to protect the section's flanks.

The protestors then threw smoke grenades and tried to break through the lines several times. After being repelled, the German snatch team moved forward and tried to grab some of the main troublemakers in the group. Medical personnel were kept busy as they treated wounded Marines and protestors.

After successfully pushing the protestors back and getting them to disperse, the Marines replayed the scenario with some changes three times over the course of the day.

"The training went really well," said Maj. Dirk Jager, commanding officer, Multi-National Brigade South Military Police Co. "Our snatch team was fairly new and it was good for them to get some experience, especially with the Marines, who have good leaders."

"One thing I can say is Marines train very aggressively," said Jager. "It was very realistic training out there."

For the Marines this training offered them the chance to do something they don't often have the opportunity to do.

"I like doing this type of stuff," said Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Lesher, scout, Light Armored Reconnaissance Plt. "We don't get to do this sort of training very often and it is good to get some practice, in case we have to do it for real."

As the day came to a close, the Marines gathered around and debriefed the day's events. After hearing all the perspectives and getting a better feel for how to control an angry mob, Jager handed out German MP armbands to a few of the element leaders and Marines that stood out during the training.

The armbands signified the partnership that was formed between the Marines and Germans throughout the day.