Navy Playing Critical Role at Special Missions Training Center
Story Number: NNS050602-15
Release Date: 6/2/2005 3:10:00 PM
By Journalist 1st Class (SW/AW) John Osborne, Naval Personnel Development Command Public Affairs
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (NNS) -- The Navy turned a new page in its partnership with the Coast Guard and Marine Corps at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Special Missions Training Center (SMTC) April 12 at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The new 20-acre, $23 million SMTC will provide a venue for coordinated training between the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard on small boats, weapons handling and port security.
“After the bombing of USS Cole (DDG 67) and the 9/11 attacks, our nation realized just how vulnerable we really were on our seaports and waterways,” said Chief Engineman (SWCC/PJ) Michael Hager, lead instructor for Crew Served Weapons Course and curriculum manager for Level II Coxswain training. “The war on terrorism revealed that we were undermanned to provide this kind of force protection, but by training together with the Coast Guard and Marine Corps, our security forces will not only be larger but better prepared to protect us against future attacks. Each service brings particular skills to the table that, when integrated, make us a more complete combat machine.”
The Navy’s primary responsibility at SMTC is to support Maritime Force Protection Command, Naval Coastal Warfare and Mobile Security Squadrons in individual skills training on small boat combat tactics, a skill that has, according to Navy officials, become invaluable in the global war on terrorism.
Construction on the new SMTC facility will not be complete until 2007, but joint training between the three branches has existed here since the Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center was commissioned in 2003. The new SMTC will train approximately 2,000 students per year from all three services. The Navy is represented at SMTC by the Center for Antiterrorism and Navy Security Forces, which has eight Navy instructors charged with delivering the Level II Coxswain and Small Boat Crew Served Weapons Courses.
Hager said the joint learning environment has undoubtedly presented a unique set of challenges, but he is proud of how well the small number of Sailors have adjusted and met their mission.
“This is by far the most challenging assignment I have ever had,” Hager admitted. “From developing the curriculum and study guides to scheduling classrooms and learning how each service operates, it has been difficult at times, but we have gotten through those issues and completed the courses. We have been able to routinely use Coast Guard and Marine Corps personnel as instructors, and Navy students have responded well to the knowledge and experience they bring to the table. It is a strong reflection of the professionalism in all the members of the SMTC staff.”
Already, service members from the Navy Mobile Security Forces are putting the training they received at SMTC to use, conducting security operations in the United States and abroad. But even with this success and the optimism that accompanies the anticipation of the new training facilities being brought online, Hager remains aware that the war on terrorism is ongoing and the staff at SMTC must continue to provide trained professionals.
“Even though the new facilities won’t be fully functional until 2007, we will continue to meet all training objectives with what we have,” he said. “The war on terrorism requires that our training regimen remains flexible, and we will continue to make adjustments where necessary to ensure that the Navy is doing everything in its power to support our nation’s mission.”
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