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Marines from Military Police Platoon, Marine Wing Support Squadron 473, Marine Wing Support Group 47, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing restrain a Marine posing as a enemy combatant during tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel training aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, April 10. The Marines had to search numerous buildings to find 1st Lt. Rodney D. Solorzano to complete the objective. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christopher O'Quin/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Christopher O'Quin

21st Century Guardians: Gargoyles train to defend abroad

10 Apr 2010 | Cpl. Christopher O'Quin

  When the air wing deploys, a team of military policemen provide around the clock security for forward air bases and help ensure constant operations.

Military policemen from Marine Wing Support Squadron 473, Marine Wing Support Group 47, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, a reserve unit stationed aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, trained aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, April 9 through 11, to support future wing operations.

The first day the Marines learned how to use the Biometrics Automated Toolset System. They took turns scanning each other’s retinas, fingerprints and faces and uploading their individual biological traits onto a database.

This scanning and uploading ability enables the Marines to identify and locate potential enemy combatants while in Iraq and Afghanistan. The system’s retina scan accuracy means there is a one in 1.2 million chance of failure to correctly identify someone. This accuracy ensures positive identification.

It was an eye opener using this equipment, explained Lance Cpl. Drew E. Poyorenarock, a military policeman with the squadron. It was challenging at first, but this will help MPs keep air bases secure.

After the BATS training, the Marines moved to one of Pendleton’s military operations in urban terrain towns where they could practice setting up security, clearing rooms and training with simulated ammunition.

At dawn on the following day, the MPs went on a convoy mission to set up a forward arming and refueling point. They provided security while expeditionary airfields, Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting and other sections from the squadron set up a site where pilots could pick up fuel, just as if they were deployed.

“The first convoy had its challenges; but they stepped up, they adjusted, they improvised, they adapted and overcame,” said 1st Lt. Rodney D. Solorzano, the military police platoon commander with detachment minus. “Based on our situation, they did well. All the missions were accomplished. If it was perfect, it wouldn’t have been training. Each time they worked out the kinks and worked out the solutions, the second mission was a lot smoother than the first. As long as you’re taking steps forward not backwards, as an [officer in charge] that’s what I’m looking at.”

The Marines combined the elements of their training into a final scenario. Solarzano acted as a downed pilot taken prisoner by some of the Marines posing as enemy combatants. A team of MPs rode in 7-ton trucks to the objective. Once inside the MOUT town, the enemy Marines opened fire with simulated rounds, painting the area pink and blue.

Building by building, room by room, the Marines searched for the pilot. The MPs retrieved the pilot after searching every house in town. With the help of two Marines the pilot walked to safety as the rest of the team provided cover fire, ending the training.

“I would say it’s a good basis, the MOUT lets us walk before we can run on an activation,” said Sgt. Brandon R. Pressly, a military policeman from the squadron’s Detachment A who recently returned from deployment to Iraq. “This training is pretty much a taste of deployment. On the real missions it’s pretty much what we’ll be doing except we’ll have better gear and more personnel.”

 The Marines went back to working their civilian jobs having completed their training. With their occupation proficiency enhanced from the training, they can mobilize and support the air wing whenever they are needed.

“I enjoyed the most seeing the Marines come together, not having the luxury as an active-duty unit where you are a well-oiled machine used to working together,” said Solorzano. “A lot of these Marines come from different backgrounds. Some are cops, firefighters, students, construction workers, so they’re not used to doing this everyday. When they come out here and are able to perform just as well as active-duty Marines, it’s what I take pride in.”


3rd Marine Aircraft Wing