SFS conducts spray training

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Thompson
  • 183d Secuirty Forces
May UTA weekend members of the 183rd Security Forces Squadron participated in Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray training.

OC spray is more commonly known as pepper spray, which is a less than lethal use of force tool utilized by law enforcement, corrections and military personnel.

A recent change to AFMAN 31-222, the Air Force Use of Force Manual, now requires Security Forces personnel to receive a one-time exposure to the OC spray and annual refresher training for those armed with it.

The AFMAN requires that all Security Forces personnel be trained on the OC spray prior to carrying it on duty.

As a new training prerequisite, most members of the 183rd SFS had not fulfilled this requirement. Training was conducted both Saturday and Sunday, with 37 members participating in this once-in-a-lifetime experience, or so they hope.

OC is derived from the oily resin of the cayenne and other varieties of peppers. Many people incorrectly believe that OC is a chemical agent; it is actually a food product. OC in a naturally occurring inflammatory agent that when applied to the face, causes swelling of the mucous membranes, involuntary closing of the eyes, gagging, coughing, shortness of breath, and an intense burning sensation to exposed skin. As one of the lucky participants of the training that was conducted, I can attest to the accuracy of the above descriptions.

One of the requirements for Security Forces personnel who utilize this tool in the performance of their duties, is to provide decontamination for suspects that have been sprayed.

Unfortunately for the Security Forces personnel that participated in the training, there really isn't too much that can be done to lessen the effects of the OC spray. Water only seems to activate/reactivate the residue that remains on the individual's skin. Again, something I can attest to, as when I took a shower later that night, I received a vivid reminder of the earlier training.

While this is an extremely unpleasant experience, the importance of it cannot be overstated. Security Forces personnel must be aware of the effects and the expected reactions of suspects should they ever need to employ this tool.

It also serves to instill a level of confidence in them and teaches them that they must persevere through any situation. Failure to persevere while attempting to apprehend an individual could be deadly, which makes this training even more relevant.

The training also acted as a wonderful team-building exercise. It is interesting how the more unpleasant the training, the more we seem to reflect back on and remember the event.

As the DoD moves towards the utilization of less than lethal means for use of force, the 183rd Security Forces Squadron strives to be on the leading edge of the most current training.

Our Security Forces members have added another tool to their tool belt.