During my tenure on the Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Team for Southern California, I had the opportunity to participate in a number of interesting and exciting training revolutions.  I got to learn knife techniques alongside the L.A. SWAT team, vehicle searches with military police units, and to gain proficiency with a number of weapon systems not traditionally employed by junior enlisted Marines in a combat zone like the M-9 Beretta and the MP-5.  It was a great experience, and I truly valued the time and effort devoted by the military and civilian experts that came in to help us increase our proficiency and ability to rapidly respond to a terrorist attack; but there was one training event that remains a miserable memory to this day… qualifying to carry OC Pepper Spray.

Plenty of folks in the military and law enforcement can relate to the joys of earning the least-coveted of tactical certifications – as in order to carry that little bottle of misery around on your hip, you must first allow yourself to be pretty thoroughly doused in the stuff, and then demonstrate an ability to continue to perform the duties of your role in a law enforcement capacity.

In short, it means letting a guy spray you with a healthy dose of OC spray, and the completing an obstacle course that includes fighting off a number of opponents, maneuvering around the course, getting your hands on a firearm and effectively delivering commands to suspects while keeping your weapon, and burning eyes, trained directly on them.

Now may be a good time to point out that I’m the sort of Irish that sees potatoes as “a bit spicy,” and that can hardly survive the taste of a cinnamon Altoid.