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FLETC augments training with technology

By Alicia Gregory, FLETC
Marine Tactical, January 01, 2008

Picture of agents in front of simulator

At the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Glynco law enforcement training has adapted and modernized to keep up with emerging technologies.. This is evident in two of the new training technologies that have been integrated into marine training by the Marine Training Branch. The first system implemented was a laser targeting system, soon to be followed by marine simulators.


The laser targeting system was implemented largely to address environmental concerns. FLETC previously used non-lethal training ammunition on static targets mounted on a suspect boat during their Marine Law Enforcement Training Program (MLETP). This introduced the spent rounds, which contained brass and plastic, into the waterways during the training.

The laser targeting system is designed to fire a laser beam using a blank round to replicate the recoil and report of a live round. Providing a realistic training environment allows the trainees to better apply judgment and decision making skills all while being environmentally beneficial.

The system operates wirelessly and is controlled by a laptop computer. Instructors build program scenarios that operate “pop up” targets placed on a training vessel. The targets have sensors that detect a hit when struck by the laser in the barrel of the officer’s weapon. The targets can be set to determine the number of hits it takes to knock them down, and how many times they will reappear. The system also allows for the use of blanks in the officers weapon, which provides both realistic recoil and noise report. It also gives the opportunity to conduct reloading and weapons malfunction drills while engaged in the scenario.

The issue of brass and plastic being introduced into the water has been remedied by the Brass Retention Device (BRD) that was developed to contain the brass. In order to accommodate the use of the blank round, a special canopy was constructed on the bow of a boat to ensure that all of the empty casings remain in the vessel, not in the water to comply with EPA regulations. (That is the net you see on the front of the boat.)

The Marine Law Enforcement Training Program (MLETP) is an intense four-week course of instruction conducted at the FLETC’s main facility in Glynco, Ga. It is designed to teach basic boat handling skills and tactics to law enforcement trainees.. The program balances time between classroom lectures, laboratory exercises, and practical exercises conducted on the local waterways and around seaports.

The MLETP has a long history of providing marine law enforcement officers from Federal, state and local, and numerous foreign law enforcement agencies training in basic and advanced vessel operations and tactics. It was first implemented at the request of the former U.S. Customs Service in 1984 to provide vessel operators a basic knowledge of boat operations, handling skills and tactics. The program has evolved over the years into what many agencies consider a required basic training program for vessel operator positions.

Picture of agents in front of simulator

Students work at a console with vessel controls and view. Instructors can choose what elements to throw at students - weather, other vessels, or radio traffic to see how students respond.


The FLETC recently made to the commitment to integrate marine training simulators in an effort to enhance marine law enforcement training curricula. The new system developed by NavSim Services includes 12 student stations and three instructor stations. The $1.4 million contract also includes training for FLETC instructors on how to operate, modify and create training scenarios..

Simulator training is conducted in pods, with each pod consisting of four student stations and one instructor station. This configuration allows students to train multiple times in many different environments. The controlled environment of the simulators provides an opportunity for individuals and teams to develop judgment and response skills by encountering various situations that range from routine to life-threatening. During training, students will be asked to make decisions based on knowledge and experience. As they move through the scenarios students develop better judgment skills and expand their decision making capabilities.

The marine simulators consist of a basic operating system, but the layout, instrumentation and controls can be configured as needed. The software programs offer a wide variety of ship types, locations, weather and scenarios. The simulators record results of each trainee's performance to serve as a tracking device for individual’s progress and for a detailed after-action-review. This adaptability allows the simulation system to meet the changing demands for marine law enforcement training.

This training will contribute significantly to the efficiency and safety of marine operations, and to environmental protection, but it will not replace existing hands-on underway training. The simulators are another training tool designed to enhance the current marine law enforcement training programs. In addition, students will engage in discussion, feedback, and debriefing of any scenario or situation in a classroom environment.

Currently, the new marine simulator training is still in development, but FLETC will integrate this technology in 2008.

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