Less-Than-Lethal Combat Training

You know all about lethal force, guns and bombs and such. But what about when they need to stop someone without killing them? It's called less than lethal. We watched as members of the National Guard took part in the special training.

The idea is to use non-deadly weapons to subdue a would-be aggressor. Guardsmen from the 165th Airlift Wing and all over the country are among the first to get this specialized training.

Pepper spray to the eyes, a Taser shock to the system, or a a baton that can reach you from far away. These are what the Air and Army National Guard call less-than-lethal methods of combat.

"We want to give these folks another option besides lethal force," explained Capt. Joel Rockemann.

The US Marine Corps captain is heading up the training of the Guardsmen and -women. They come to the 165th Airlift Wing's Combat Readiness Training Center from all over the country.

Today, Guardsmen like Sgt. Donald Ray Bolton got pepper sprayed in the eyes.

"Oh man, it's like getting hit with cayenne pepper," he said.

Then, they have to capture their targets. "It's like fighting through drills to show you can fight even though you got contaminated."

Sgt. Bolton is one of 141 students going through this training. But if you think pepper spray is bad on its own, it's so humid, every time they wash out their eyes, the sweat makes the pepper spray even worse.

Many of these soldiers also work security and law enforcement. Sgt. Bolton says the pain is his gain. "It's good training. I'm with law enforcement in Louisiana, and it will help with my unit and my police department."

It's a tough exercise, but Capt. Rockemann says the reward could be a life spared. "All this does is give them other tools when they fight the battles we are in right now."

This training is spread out over ten days. It started on Monday and will continue through next Friday, when they will graduate from the program.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com