CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — A platoon from South Carolina’s 132nd Military Police Company is busy preparing to deploy this summer. The Guardsmen have to be ready for anything to be fully capable. Part of their preparation includes being sprayed with a chemical compound that leaves the skin burning long after contact.
The ability to correctly complete tasks while incapacitated by the spray is part of the training to prepare the MP’s for the uncertain environment they will face during their peacekeeping mission to Kosovo.
“Completing the tasks was difficult. I mean, it started out okay, and then it got pretty difficult,” said Spc. Aaron D. Loadholt, a military policeman deploying with the 132nd. “When you start doing the tasks, the spray starts dripping down your face, stinging your eyes and it burns. It gets more and more difficult to see, to breathe. You become very disorientated.”
The spray is a substance called Oleoresin Capsicum. The MP’s were validated at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center on their ability to maneuver through a series of tasks after an instructor covers their eyes with the chemical, July 25.
Spc. Derek T. Burnett, a military policeman is deploying with the 132nd as part of the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Burnett described the OC as pepper spray on steroids, and compared it to going through the Army’s standard tear gas training.
“It feels kind of like the gas chamber, only one hundred times worse,” said Burnett. “Your eyes feel like they are on fire, your face feels like it is on fire. You can’t focus. Some people can’t listen. Some people either get angry or scared or upset, and some people may not react at all.”
“Let’s just say we are doing riot control, and one of the civilians sprays us with OC, we will know how to react towards it, how it feels on us and if we can still motivate ourselves, push ourselves to complete the mission, “ said Burnett.
For the MP’s this training is important, even if it is painful and uncomfortable.
“The point of it, is that this is our job,” said Burnett. “We have to do what we are supposed to do. If we have to go thru OC, if we have to get tased, then we know how to use it, we know what it feels like, and we are better prepared.”
These soldiers are being validated on MP capabilities; how to maintain law and order and basic police work.
The 218th is deploying as part of the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. The main focus of the taskforce is to help maintain law and order in the country and to train the local authorities to be able to keep the peace in the region. The MP’s are preparing themselves to handle potentially hostile situations.
Loadholt, a native of Hampton, said, “we go through a wide variety of training, from riot control, pistol training, mob control, baton training, hand to hand, combative training, a lot of law enforcement training.”
Burnett is assured his team will be met with success on this deployment.
“I feel confident, because my squad is one of a kind. They are good too. The training is helping a lot. All the instructors are doing a pretty good job of showing us how to do it, how to train for it.”