CAMP LEJEUNE, NC ( Lance Cpl. Mark Watola) – The U.S. Coast Guard’s Special Missions Training Center trains deployable specialized forces to become Operators in the Basic Tactical Operations Course (BTOC) located at Courthouse Bay aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
“Tactical operators can go on a wide variety of missions,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Shane Goudswaard, a Maritime Enforcement Specialist and BTOC instructor. “Most of our missions are shipboard: conducting counternarcotic, counterterrorism and anti-piracy operations. We want to best prepare students for any situation they may encounter.”
Students spent four weeks on the flat range, said Goudswaard. They start with single round engagement with primary and secondary weapon systems, and move up to shooting while moving.
After the flat range, students move into the shoot houses where they learn the basics of close quarters combat. They learn infiltration and exfiltration techniques as well as how to clear rooms.
Students train in teams, learning how to move, shoot and communicate with each other to complete the mission.
“As a class, we have advanced tremendously,” said Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Wade Arnold, and the courses class leader. “From day one when we zeroed our weapons, leading up to the culminating event. Instructors showed us different shooting techniques and movements as well as the proper way to shoot.”
As the students progress through the course, they learn more than the training, and the importance of teamwork.
“I spent 10 years in the field before I became an instructor,” said Goudswaard. “I enjoy seeing how the students have progressed throughout BTOC, and knowing that my experiences have gone into their training.”
Students not only learn shooting techniques and close quarters combat, said Goudswaard. The teamwork they develop and camaraderie they build are critical aspects they take away from the training.
“The SMTC has been a great training environment,” said Arnold. “We got to work with the best instructors the Coast Guard has to offer, honing our skills for future operations.”