Charlie Company, BLT 1/6 holds the line

8 Dec 2003 | Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Milks

Crouched behind riot shields, peering through helmet visors, and clutching batons, the Marines of Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 6th Marines form an impenetrable line against the throngs of protesters surging against their line.During an embassy reinforcement exercise executed during the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit's (MEU's) Expeditionary Strike Group Exercise (ESGEX), the Marines of Charlie Company had the opportunity to put to use the skills they acquired during the Non-Lethal Weapons and Tactics Course [NLWTC] they attended several months ago.As one of a MEU's 23 mission-essential tasks, the employment of non-lethal weapons is an important facet of the unit's warfighting arsenal.Lance Cpl. Mitchell F. Vocke is a rifleman in Charlie Company's 2d Platoon and served as a react squad member during the company's six-hour melee with the protesters."The training was awesome," said Vocke, a native of Fairfield, Ohio. "The role-players were much more aggressive than before [at the NLWTC] and that made it much more realistic."Charlie Company used the full arsenal of skills taught at the NLWTC to secure the 'embassy.' The Marines deployed in their boot-stomping, shield-slamming formations, fired less-than-lethal munitions, dosed the protesters with Oleoresin Capsicum (concentrated form of pepper spray), and employed snatch teams to pluck instigators from the crowd.Like every other evolution in their pre-deployment training program, the Marines of Charlie Company will use this experience to improve themselves for future operations."We'll go back and debrief on everything that happened out here," said Sgt. Anthony L. Viggiani, of Strongsville, Ohio, a Charlie Company squad leader. "We'll talk things over, learn what we did right and wrong, and fine tune our procedures for when we have to do this for real."The 22d MEU is scheduled to deploy in early next year aboard the amphibious assault ships WASP, SHREVEPORT, and WHIDBEY ISLAND as part of ESG 2. In addition to BLT 1/6, the 22d MEU consists of its Command Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 (Reinforced), and MEU Service Support Group 22.For more information on the mission, organization, and status of the 22d MEU, visit the unit's website at
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit