For many Soldiers, being sprayed in the face with pepper spray is not a common occurrence. But for the 15 Soldiers of the 571st Military Police Company, being sprayed is just another part of training and a skill that could save their lives.
The group to be sprayed by Oleoresin Capsicum, commonly known as Pepper Spray, consisted of two officers, ten enlisted and three cadets all who needed to be certified on the training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, July 29. But the training lane was not just about being sprayed with the OC spray; they also had to complete five stations relevant to their role as a military police officer.
First the Soldiers are sprayed, then move to station number one where they used open fisted punches to push back a subject. Then at stations two through four, Soldiers had to use strong and support side-strikes, front and rear jabs, and block while using a baton. At the final station, Soldiers had to apprehend and handcuff a subject; all while being evaluated on using the proper commands. Relief comes when they move to the decontamination station to clean up, according to Staff Sgt. Christopher Lillard, 571st MP Company.
Despite the pain and suffering that comes with being sprayed, the MPs are gaining valuable lessons from the experience.
“The Soldiers are learning the direct effects of how the spray feels. This will allow them to understand how their subjects are feeling if they ever have to use it in a real world situation, and hopefully, will teach them self-control when using it,” said Lillard. “But more importantly it will teach them that if they ever get accidently sprayed during a conflict, they will be able to fight through the effects of it and continue with their mission.”
But for some of the MPs taking part, the training poses not only a little fear but also excitement and personal pride.
“I’m nervous, but my adrenaline is running and I have had a little experience when I was at the police academy. I just want to make sure I keep my eyes open and do all the stations right,” said Spc. Chelsea Vosbein, an MP with the 571st Military Police Company, and one of only two females in the training. “I’m really hoping I can hold my own out here and be able to compete with the guys. I think the worst part is going to be the recovery, but I am looking forward to the obstacles and the challenge is going to be fun.”
Once the burning and stinging in their eyes and faces finally subsides and the training is over, Lillard hopes that Soldiers take away important lessons from this training.
“I hope that this teaches these Soldiers not to panic. There are a lot of physical and psychological effects that come when you get sprayed with OC spray,” commented Lillard. “But after this they will know how to handle it.”