Magazine article National Defense

Coast Guard Training Center Becoming Joint': Service Needs More Advanced Simulation Technologies to Meet High Demand, Officials Say

Magazine article National Defense

Coast Guard Training Center Becoming Joint': Service Needs More Advanced Simulation Technologies to Meet High Demand, Officials Say

Article excerpt

The Coast Guard's special missions training center will evolve over the next year into a joint maritime training center to include the Marine Corps and the Navy.

Demand for the center's services has grown significantly during the past two years, a trend that is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. To meet these expanding needs for training, the Coast Guard's special missions center will require a wider array of modern simulation technologies, officials said.

A new joint facility, according to Cmdr. Fred White, the head of the special missions training center, "will have the infrastructure, including computers to host and to house" the necessary simulation technologies.

At the Interservice/Industry Training and Simulation conference in Orlando, White told potential contractors to expect business opportunities to fill in the chronic lack of simulation technology that has plagued the entire Coast Guard and, therefore, his training center as well.

The Marine Corps--the Coast Guard's landlord for the special missions training center--has offered approximately 20 acres of land for the construction of the new joint maritime training center, White told National Defense.

Construction of the $38 million facility will start in fiscal year 2004. White said he was not sure how many buildings the center will have, but it could be as many as seven.

While the Coast Guard already is working with the Marine Corps at the current training facility, the joint center will also include the Navy's mobile security force, said White.

Because the Coast Guard specializes in small boat operations, the service will contribute low-end tactics, while the Marine Corps and the Navy "will do their higher-end tactics," he said.

These plans, however, carry an added burden for the Coast Guard. "The demand for our services has greatly ourpaced our ability to respond," White said. "We are having a hard time keeping up with Coast Guard demand land even] much less with the new demand that is coming out of the Navy, Marine Corps, international, and local and federal agencies."

The Coast Guard is overwhelmed by homeland security missions, said White. The service is expected to grow by at least 100 people each year.

"Even if we doubled the size of the Coast Guard, we will all be still very busy," he said. "We are just inundated right now."

White's biggest challenge at the special missions training center is the high volume of people that he needs to train. In the past two years, the output of the center increased 1,000 percent.

Only last year, White and his training staff had approximately four months to stand up the Marine Safety and Security Teams. That meant putting 100 people through training per month. However, White pointed out that the Coast Guard did not have the infrastructure to train so many people.

MSSTs are domestic mobile units with specialized training that perform a broad spectrum of port safety and security duties. They are modeled after the Coast Guard's expeditionary Port Security Units (PSUs), usually deployed overseas to provide harbor security, and Law Enforcement Detachments. MSSTs are designed to protect military-load outs, enforce security zones, defend waterside facilities in strategic ports, as well as stop illegal activities.

Marine Safety and Security Teams

The center is gearing up for even more work, because "there will be many more" MSSTs that need to be trained, said White. He declined to provide the exact number. According to Coast Guard documents, six more teams have been requested in the president's budget proposal for 2004.

This year, at least two more reams will be placed on the map--one in Jacksonville, Fla. and one in Newark, NJ. The other four are in Seattle, Houston, Hampton Roads, Va., and Los Angeles-Long Beach. They can be deployed to ports around the country. …

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