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FLETC augments training with technology

January 1, 2008
Alicia Gregory, FLETC
Marine Tactical

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.