'Ode to Joy'

'Ode to Joy'

June 3, 2011

Bang, Pow, Pop: SRT Marines train, shoot paper enemies

Lance Cpl. Amanda A. Phelps, Special Reaction Team entry member, shoots two to the head and one to the chest, failure to stop drill with the M4 carbine during the SRT quarterly training at the Indoor Small Arms Range here May 25-26. The Marines did several practice scenarios to familiarize themselves with the weapons before moving on to pre-qualifications and qualifications. (Photo by LCpl. Cayce Nevers)
By Lance Cpl. Cayce Nevers, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni 
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan  — Bang! Bang! The sound of Marines sending off rounds of the M4 carbine echoed throughout the Indoor Small Arms Range here May 25-26 during the Special Reaction Team quarterly training.
SRT, the Marine Corps’ version of a civilian Special Weapons and Tactics team, is the last resort when all other military police tactics have failed.

“It is like our military police version of SWAT,” said Sgt. Kyle C. Hill, SRT team leader. “We are a ‘SWAT’ team to handle any kind of high risk situation aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.”

Each SRT member must be proficient at his or her job, to include shooting, making split second decisions and holding themselves to a higher standard.

“SRT is a step above,” said Lance Cpl. Amanda A. Phelps, SRT entry member. “Its elite and you always have to be on top of your game. We are the last resort, so when things are going down and there are no other means, we are called.”

With that, SRT is constantly training.

“We P.T. five times per week, shoot quarterly and we do scenario-based training, weapon reloads and that kind of thing five times per week,” said Cpl. Jairo A. Javier, SRT assistant team leader. “We are on call 24/7, so even on the weekends, if they want us to train, we have to come in.”

Each aspect of the quarterly shooting is important to the Marines. They learn more advanced weapon techniques and movements than most Marines receive.

“It’s important because you have to be able to go into a building, not knowing what you’re getting yourself into and be on top of your game at all times,” said Phelps.

The training helps Marines keep their skills sharp and create confidence with weapon handling.

“This is going to help us out in everything,” said Javier. “Marksmanship is obviously a huge factor because when you make entry into a building, it may come down to you taking a shot between one person and another. You have to be confident in your ability to take out the suspect and not the victim.”

The Marines on the SRT team spent the first day at the ISAR familiarizing themselves with the M4 and the Baretta M9. They then spent the second day qualifying.

The Marines loaded their magazines and performed many different scenarios.

“The most challenging was probably the movement while engaging a target, it’s always hard to keep steady,” said Phelps.

While for one Marine, moving may have been the most challenging, others found evaluating the situation was the hardest part for them.

Split second decisions are a must when you are on SRT and they must be good decisions, Javier said.

Over 5,000 rounds were used throughout the two days of shooting the SRT Marines did during the training. Not only did the Marines have many rounds to go through in such a short time, they also had more gear than they were used to.

“This training puts a lot of stress on them, the added weight of wearing the gear and using new scenarios and things like that,” said Hill.

“Our goal was to use this training to make the Marines proficient, and I am sure that is what most Marines took out of this training,” he said.

With the qualifications and familiarization past, the Marines are a little more proficient with the weapons they use.

“The Marines will use this training to develop a better proficiency with the weapon systems that we use and their shooting capabilities,” said Hill.

The SRT Marines will continue to train in scenarios and reloading drills. While they may not be able to shoot for another several months, the Marines seemed more comfortable after the training they took part in than they did before shooting the weapons.

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