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Profiling class exposes targets

30 Jul 2009 | Cpl. Paul M. Torres

When encountering an enemy who is able to blend in with the populace, it is important to work twice as hard to stay a step ahead.

Marines from Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, in the Combat Hunters course received the profiling portion of the lesson, July 30, which taught them how to observe a situation and glean as much valuable information from it as possible.

“It is a great class where we are teaching Marines how to look at a situation, and based on body language and other factors, they should be able to establish a base of behavior for that individual or group, or even just the attitude of the local populace,” said Gunnery Sgt. John M. Austin, 31, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the Combat Hunters course, from Houston, Texas.

The first day had the Hunter students in the classroom taking notes to prepare them for the practical application the following day.

In the classroom, the students viewed video surveillance of actual insurgent activity and were shown how to effectively profile the behavior of individuals or groups.

The practical application was a two-day exercise where the students set up observation posts while role-players acted out scenarios for the Marines to record and decipher possible enemy movement.

“We observed the town to determine the baseline of behavior for the people,” said Cpl. Richard B. Gardner, 23, a student at the Combat Hunter course, from Honesdale, Pa. “Once we determine what is normal, we can pick out the abnormalities based on the intelligence we received and what we observe and record.”

From a distance of 300 to 500 yards, the Hunter students watched the town as role players interacted with each other and reacted to the insurgents who had moved in and were harassing the villagers and anyone who supported coalition forces.

“We try to find the leaders of the groups to determine who our high-valued targets are,” said Cpl. Alex Carreon, 22, from Bay City, Texas, a combat hunter student. “We look for things like mimicry, or motions that give direction to the others and how they treat other people. (Such as) if they talk with people face-to-face or if they have someone running messages for them.”

The Marines spent the day attempting to identify high-valued individuals within the town. After determining if they were friendly or enemy to U.S. forces, based on their actions, the Marines then planned a raid the next day to detain a would-be ‘insurgent’ leader and searched their safe house.

With the ever-changing battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, these Marines now have more weapons for their toolbox that will enable them to become the predator instead of the prey.

With the ever-changing battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, these Marines now have more weapons for their toolbox that will enable them to become the predator instead of the prey.