ANSBACH, Germany - The Ansbach Military Police force is the first in U.S. Army Europe to be certified to use pepper spray.

The unit achieved this following training on Jan. 12 and 13 at Bismark Kaserne when 38 MPs experienced the effects of pepper spray.

"We are certifying the Ansbach MP platoons in Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray--the pepper spray they carry on their belts,Aca,!aEUR" said Sgt. 1st Class JonLantz Elliott, senior law en-forcement advisor, Office of the Provost Marshal USAREUR, Law Enforcement Branch who is responsible for all USAREUR MP training.

"This is another level of defense for them while they are out on duty and the training was authorized in June 2010 by the USAREUR G-3. We had to order it and then present it to the German government to make sure it meets their specifications," said Elliott.

The spray is one of the levels of force patrolling Soldiers use.

"In the use of force, when they show up on the scene and get out of their car, they have different levels of force besides their side arm, which is the highest level. So we need levels in between that," explained Elliott.

According to Master Sgt. Delbert French, provost sergeant at the USAG Ansbach Provost Marshall's Office, the Army has eight levels of force: verbal persuasion; unarmed defense techniques; aerosol irritant projectors-pepper spray, which is expected to be in use sometime this year; Taser; MP club; military working dogs; presentation of deadly force capability and deadly force.

"It is another step they can use," Elliott said. "The Soldiers go through this training so they know that what they are carrying on their hip, when they spray a subject, they know how they are going to react, they know exactly how it is. This builds confidence in their tool and gains compli-ance of that person."

According to French the spray had to be approved for use by USAREUR and German authorities; each garrison coordinated training with USAREUR for up to 40 people a day.

"This will enhance our ability to have several different levels of force before we have to use deadly force," he said. "It increases our ability to better police the public," said French.

The patrolmen agree; before they can use the pepper spray, MPs must experience it first-hand.

"I think it is an encouraging experience, especially for these new guys who have never been sprayed. It definitely gives them a closer insight of what they're feeling and how to use it, when it comes time, in the situation as a patrolman," said MP Spc. Roger Henson.

Henson has had the experience.

"This is actually the fifth time I have done this," he said. "I feel fine."

Henson said that the spray immediately burns the eyes and skin and is an intense sensation. He offered some advice to his fellow patrolmen.

"The best thing to do is blink your eyes, keep your hands away from your face to keep from contaminating your hands and other parts of your body, just let the air cool it down," he said.

Henson believes there is less crime in Germany than in the U.S. and the training will be beneficial when they return home.

"Law enforcement is always changing," he said. "I and the company believe that this training is very vital to our mission in the Army; that way everyone will experience it and know exactly how to use this come time when we confront maybe that violent individual that's over here.

"There have been times over here where we have needed to use this," he said. "I recall an incident just last week where we apprehended an individual that was literally so intoxicated, that he ended up kicking out one of the windshields of the patrol vehicle. This obviously would have helped us subdue the individual," he said.