Coast Guard sharpens shooting skills through Advanced Tactical Operations Course

11 Feb 2015 | Cpl. Mark Watola Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

Operators of the Coast Guard’s Deployable Specialized Forces community conducted low-light and no-light shooting training to sharpen their operational skills aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Feb. 11.

The night shoot was part of the Advanced Tactical Operations Course, one of several courses at the Special Mission Training Center at Courthouse Bay, available to Coast Guard operators who have previously attended the Basic Tactical Operations Course.

During the night shoot students practiced shooting skills involving barricades and donning gas masks, all a part of situations that may arise while conducting operations aboard ships.

“We work in a maritime environment. Everything is going to be very close inside of a ship and it’s important to know how to conduct a firefight on a ship,” said Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Wills, ATOC instructor. “We’re trying to put some pressure on them. We want them under stress a little bit so we can gauge how they will react under stress.”

The night shooting evolution was part of the flat range portion of the eight-week course, executed prior to moving onto close quarters combat where students tackle tactical situations involving simulated opposing forces aboard ships.

“What we’re doing is taking tactics and training applied in the basic course and having the students apply more speed as we evaluate them on their decision making process,” said Wills, an Augusta, Georgia, native. “We want students to be thinkers and be able to tactically make decisions in any type of environment and know what tool to use at what time.”

ATOC provides students different tactics and tools they can utilize, based off the basic course.

“BTOC does a good job setting students up for the advanced course,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Anthony Bassi, ATOC primary flat range instructor and Charleston, South Carolina, native. “ATOC gives students more options and tools for their tool bag.” 

When students return to their units they will be able to take the knowledge they learned from the course and share with their peers to enhance their mission capabilities.

“We might conduct counter piracy or counter drug support, but our primary mission is counter terrorism response,” said Wills. “If the Coast Guard is going to send one team, these students will be on that team.”