Coast Guard special missions training center provides service members’ maritime operation skills

3 Jul 2014 | Lance Cpl. Mark Watola

In a remote location aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, an elite group of Coast Guardsmen and women provide training in support of the USCG Deployable Specialized Forces.

Special Missions Training Center, located in Courthouse Bay, develops and delivers training and training material to improve performance, ensure safety, promote proficiency and enforce standardization for the Coast Guard’s tactical communities.

“Our goal is to train DSF Operators within the Coast Guard community,” said Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Curtis Taft, a maritime enforcement specialist. “There are waterside courses and tactical courses which teach students vessel pursuit, close quarters combat, crew served weapons proficiency and basic tactical operations.”

“In the field, Coast Guard DSF tactical missions can include infiltrating and clearing vessels that pose possible threats to national and international security,” added Taft.

In 2012, the Coast Guard removed more than 107 metric tons of cocaine inbound toward the U.S. and conducted approximately 1,400 boardings of high-interest vessels marked as posing a risk to the U.S., according to

The Basic Tactical Operations Course is an eight-week, entry-level course focused on teaching advanced combat marksmanship and close quarters combat skills for maritime operations.

During the first four weeks of the course, students learn and apply the fundamentals of combat marksmanship.

“On day one, they can barely hit their target at 25 meters,” said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Greg Aulds, maritime enforcement specialist and BTOC chief. “Halfway through the day the students already start understanding the principles and how to apply the fundamentals in order to be an accurate shot.”

The training provides the fundamentals of combat marksmanship and the ‘why’ for everything, versus the marksmanship instructor repetitively saying ‘correct yourself,’ explained Aulds.

“I enjoy seeing the progression of the students,” said Aulds. “I like seeing their improvement and building them up to be confident shooters in a stress-induced environment.”

After the first four weeks at the flat range, students move to the close quarters combat phase of training for another four weeks.

“The students gain confidence through the first four weeks of BTOC and carry it over to the CQC environment,” said Aulds. “They trust themselves in their ability to make good, accurate shots where it matters.”

After attending the eight-week course, students have the opportunity to advance to other courses, such as Close Quarters Combat Instructor, Advanced Marksmanship Instructor and the Advanced Tactical Operations Course.

“I enjoy the impact the training has on the student,” said Taft. “They’re able to walk out of the Special Mission Training Center knowing that they have more tools in their tool belt to apply on the job.”

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