Services join forces in new training complex

20 May 2003 | Sgt. Joshua S. Higgins

Officials here recently announced plans to construct a joint training center in 2004 to better equip maritime services supporting homeland security operations. 

The U.S. Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Navy will be able to standardize training and doctrinal approaches, establish communication protocols, and streamline operational techniques in support of the war on terror at the new U.S. Joint Maritime Complex scheduled for completion in 2006.

After terrorist attacks on the USS Cole, Pentagon and World Trade Center, the demand for increased maritime security prompted the Coast Guard to stand up 12 new Maritime Security and Safety Teams and the Navy to stand up 13 new Mobile Security Force units in the next three years. Coast Guard personnel and base officials proposed the new complex as a result of the need for better facilities to train these new units.

"The more operations we do worldwide as a joint force, the more we realize the importance of standardizing training throughout each maritime service," said Coast Guard Lt. Arthur H. Gomez, acting supervisor, Special Missions Training Center.

"There are many instances when the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard work together, so it only makes sense to train together."

The decision to build the complex here was based on its requirements, according to Bernie W. McGowan, contractor, Special Missions Training Center. The base has the required access to water for joint boat tactics training, access to land-based training areas and water training ranges, and space to develop its facilities.

"Camp Lejeune is the best location for the facility because it has the best combination of elements needed for the type of training we'll do here," said McGowan. "Other sites were considered, but because they didn't meet one or more of the requirements, they weren't chosen."

The complex will cost about $40 million, according to W. Larry Brant, director, Installations/Environment Division, Marine Corps Base, and will take two years to complete.  The project will be broken down into three construction phases: the training center's headquarters, an academic instruction facility, and a 300-personnel barrack in the Courthouse Bay area, Brant explained.

The Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center, which has trained its Port Security Units at Courthouse Bay since November 1998, will command the new facility, according to Gomez. Each service will provide its own instructors for mission-specific training. The Coast Guard will continue training port security units, maritime security and safety teams, and cutter-boat crews. The Navy will train its maritime security forces, and the Marine Corps will conduct various small-craft training focusing on force protection and intercepting enemy watercraft.

Detailed designs for the complex are scheduled to begin in July, with a contract award expected next summer, according to Brant.  He said everyone involved is working hard to get this project into action, and its completion will provide a great asset to all three services.