GUAM, Northern Marianas - The smell of sulfur combined with the all-too-familiar pop of gunfire permeates the air. Marines clad in flak jackets and Kevlar helmets line up and wait for the command to fire. However, there is one peculiarity not seen on a live-fire range in some time.
Marines shared the rifle range with members of Guam’s special weapons and tactics team to rekindle the relationship between Guam authorities and the Marine Corps. The event took place March 6 on the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station’s outdoor range.
Training with the Guam SWAT team on the range was a decision between the Guam police department and the Marine Corps to provide an opportunity to share techniques and ideas, according to Staff Sgt. Phillip S. Clinton, a range safety officer and platoon sergeant for second platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, which is currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program.
“It’s always a great thing when we train with each other and learn what the other knows,” said Clinton. “While this helps the Guam police and our Marines expand knowledge, it also helps to instill added confidence in the capabilities of the police force, specifically the SWAT team.”
The day began midmorning, with the Marines running through their intermediate and advanced rifle combat marksmanship drills. They then watched as members of the SWAT team demonstrated their marksmanship drills with pistols and rifles. Once the team members completed their drills, the Marines taught the SWAT team members the Marine Corps rifle qualification drills. The day came to a close with both teams shooting combat marksmanship qualification side by side.
The Marines see and appreciate the significance of training with the local police, according to Cpl. Aaron Piccolo, a team leader and rifleman with Company L.
“It’s not often we get to train with local police departments,” said Piccolo. “Events like this are a great opportunity to exchange ideas and procedures, which ultimately benefits everybody.”
Members of the SWAT team have not trained with Marines in over eight years, according to police Sgt. John C. Aguon, officer in charge of the marine patrol section of Guam’s police department.
“It’s great to get back to the tradition,” said Aguon. “We used to do this all the time, so it feels good to come back to exchange and refresh ideas. Plus, it’s great to connect with the Marines here for Exercise Guahan Shield.”
Guam’s police department works with resident sailors, Coast Guard members and Marines, according to Aguon. This helps them understand the visiting and resident servicemembers, as well as allowing the service members to understand and respect the local police department. The added benefit is the chance to become better trained, which makes both sides ready for a wide range of missions, according to Aguon.
“Every chance we get to connect with the military is a chance to enhance and improve our skills,” said Aguon. “We all share the same mission, which is keeping our nation safe, whether on the local police force side or the military side.”
SWAT team members enjoyed the day’s training and look forward to more events like it in the future, according to Aguon.
“I’m very thankful the Marines are willing to train with us,” said Aguon. “I look getting together to exchange procedures and train more often.”