TAKORADI, Ghana – Three Marines with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 14.1 trained a group of sailors from the Ghana Navy in non-lethal weapons tactics in Takoradi, Ghana, March 17-21.
Capt. Travis Posey and Lance Cpls. Sheridan Halfacre and Dewayne Gregory traveled from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, with members of a small theater security cooperation team to demonstrate their knowledge of riot control techniques and non-lethal weapons tactics.
Posey, the team leader, crafted classes that focused on the force continuum, or how to escalate the use of force for a given scenario, non-lethal weapons ammunition and vehicle arresting devices. According to Posey’s classes, non-lethal munitions are designed to cause physical discomfort, blunt trauma, immediate incapacitation, and can have psychological effects on crowds, as well.
The Marines then took to the dirt and showed their counterparts their techniques for managing an unruly crowd.
“The Ghanaians are in the process of starting a non-lethal weapons program from the ground up. There was no material or gear to really start with so the challenge was using what we could to teach them effectively,” said Posey.
As their work finds them primarily in the confined spaces of a ship, none of the Ghanaian sailors had any prior experience in riot control. Part of the challenge for the team of Marines was to adapt their training so that the sailors could feasibly use it if called to action.
“The majority of the training I’ve done has been in riot-control formations. I have some limited visit, board, search and seizure experience, so I realize there is a benefit to having a non-lethal weapons capability on ship for escalation of force purposes,” Posey noted. “We demonstrated basic riot-control tactics and I also tried to give them examples of how they could use non-lethal weapons aboard ship.”
The tactics they learned had most of the Ghanaians wishing these types of missions were more common.
“Some of our classes were made for Marines but we still used them for the Ghanaians … They never ceased trying to learn what we were teaching them,” said Halfacre.
“This is my first time doing this. I’ve really learned a lot from it,” said Leading Seaman Emmanuel Gorleku, a Ghanaian sailor who attended the training. He noted the class taught him how to disperse rioters who might want to take over the base and “how to hold them and put them together without hurting them. Or how to make sure they don’t cause harm to you as you are protecting them.”
“We learned a lot from [the Marines]. In fact they are so fun to be around. They taught us a lot and shared a lot of their experiences together … We learned a lot, in a very good way,” he remembered.
Established in 2011, the task force is charged with supporting U.S. Africa Command and Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa’s theater security cooperation requirements to strengthen the defense capabilities of partner states and regional organizations, deter and defeat transnational threats, and strengthen the ability to conduct good governance and development. The unit is currently commanded by 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.