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Senior military leaders from 22 nations, most in the Asia-Pacific region, are gathered in Mongolia this week to learn about nonlethal weapons and how their forces can more effectively use them, when circumstances require, such as to maintain order during low-intensity conflict or civil unrest.
The two-day leadership seminar, sponsored by U.S. Marine Forces Pacific, began with demonstrations of nonlethal tactics, techniques and procedures at a training area about 30 miles west of Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital, Marine Corps Col. Brad Bartelt, the senior U.S. seminar representative, told American Forces Press Service.
The leadership seminar is the second phase of a two-part program conducted to promote awareness of nonlethal weapons and increase interoperability among those that use them, Bartelt said.
The training kicked off Aug. 17 with a bilateral field training exercise between U.S. and Mongolian forces at Mongolia’s Five Hills Training Area. Fifteen nonlethal weapons instructors from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force’s 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion conducted hands-on training for more than 150 members of the Mongolian armed forces and general police, Bartelt reported.
Together, they rehearsed nonlethal tactics and procedures such as control holds and pressure-point techniques. They also got hands-on training with various nonlethal weapons systems, including oleoresin capsicum, or “pepper spray,” the X26 Taser, 40-millimeter sponge and “stingball” grenades and nonlethal shotgun rounds.
Each experienced firsthand how it feels to be hit with a nonlethal weapon, designed to intimidate or inflict pain or discomfort rather than to kill. The training could prove valuable for the Mongolian armed forces, a major contributor to peacekeeping operations around the world, Bartelt said. The Mongolians have deployed in support of U.N. peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, Sierra Leon and the Balkans, and continue to augment the coalition in Afghanistan, he noted.
In many instances during these missions, nonlethal weapons can be valuable additions to ground commanders, he said.
“There are times when lethal force is not the best option,” Bartelt said. “For example, the effective use of nonlethal weapons can prove extremely valuable during rescue missions, situations in which civilians are used to mask a military attack, as well as riots and cases of civil disturbance during humanitarian assistance-disaster relief operations.”
Nonlethal weapons are designed to incapacitate equipment and people, minimizing fatalities and permanent injury and collateral property damage, Bartelt said. “Being able to use them effectively greatly increases the options a commander has while operating in the full spectrum of conflict,” he said.
As the Defense Department’s executive agent for nonlethal weapons and devices, the Marine Corps frequently leads related training, not only within the U.S. military, but also with partner nations.