MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying rifles does not always serve as the most practical approach for Marines trying to blend in with a local population.
But rifle or not, some areas of the world have risks lurking in the form of terrorists, gang members or other criminals produced from impoverished surroundings; and Marines still need a means of protection while remaining inconspicuous.
To gain the skills needed to protect themselves from possible harm in those situations, a group of Marines and Sailors from Marine Special Operations Advisor Group, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, took part in the Defensive Pistol Course at the Military Operations In Urban Terrain Assault Course here, June 30 through July 1.
The course curriculum centered on defensively employing the M9 9mm service pistol from a concealed holster against enemy threats, according to Capt. Joe Clemmey, the force protection officer-in-charge.
The Marines, dressed in civilian clothing, rotated through three stations at the assault course. Each station focused on a different aspect of defensive shooting.
At one station, an instructor would randomly yell out the colors and numbers on multiple targets as a Marine walked a straight line as if traveling down a road in an urban environment. The Marine at the station would then un-holster his weapon, identify and engage the targets matching the colors and numbers without hitting neighboring targets.
According to Clemmey, the station served to improve the Marines’ abilities to rapidly respond to enemy personnel while differentiating them from innocent civilians.
It also gave the Marines a chance to practice their pistol concealment skills and better understand how to move around without revealing their weapon, Clemmey said.
The Marines also practiced different pistol-drawing techniques in order to build muscle memory, as well as handled weapon malfunctions to improve their weapons-handling capabilities, said an MSOAG course instructor.
“If you practice constantly under high stress, it’s just going to come natural,” the instructor said.
For a few of the younger Marines who experienced the Defensive Pistol Course for the first time, the training instilled confidence.
“If I was ever in a situation where I needed to draw a concealed weapon, I know I could do it with no problem now,” said Lance Cpl. Leonid Mernenko, a student in the course.