JOHN C. STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (NNS) -- Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS) and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) conducted a joint field training exercise March 1-5 at John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss.
This training was the third time NAVSCIATTS and WHINSEC have worked together in a combined effort, bringing together military and law enforcement representatives from 19 nations from North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa with a common objective of enhancing skills and proficiency to assure operational success.
"It was great to work with students from other countries," said Sub-Lieutenant Patrick Ali, a NAVSCIATTS patrol craft officer course student from the Nigerian Navy. "The language barrier was difficult at first but we were able to overcome that and work as a team to carry out our training and then ultimately our mission on the last day."
NAVSCIATTS and WHINSEC schoolhouses train international students in maritime and ground-based operations respectively. Both have particular strengths in cultural sensitivity and bilingual instructor cadre language capabilities enabling students to focus more on training and less on language barriers.
The combined training with WHINSEC provides NAVSCIATTS students the experience of working, coordinating with and inserting troops into an operation from their patrol crafts. After working together twice previously in this manner, the two schools signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
"The MOU we have with NAVSCIATTS benefits us both, particularly in adding realism to the training. NAVSCIATTS students get to focus on the specific riverine training they will be going back to their nations to do, and WHINSEC students get a lesson in teamwork and joint operations, leaving the water crossing to experts. WHINSEC students can keep the final objective the target of all their efforts," said Army Col. Felix Santiago, commandant, WHINSEC.
"This joint initiative between WHINSEC and NAVSCIATTS is precisely the type of creative and ground-breaking approach toward the training of agile, adaptable and flexible multinational and interagency formations, we should be pursuing in order to stay ahead of our adversaries or to confront contemporary and complex threats."
The current nine-week counter-drug operations course at WHINSEC brings together a number of nations that face common threats. Working with the instructors and students from the patrol craft officer course at NAVSCIATTS, they are able to develop a proficiency that is needed to succeed when confronting these threats.
"The relationship between us and WHINSEC began because we were willing to sit down and talk with the idea of how do we make this work rather than leaning toward no. Just as we feel the relationships we build with our students are equally as important as the technical training we provide, the relationship we enjoy with WHINSEC is the critical factor in our continued joint exercises. They wear a different uniform but our missions are similar. Working together makes sense and more importantly it is the right thing to do for our country and our partner nations," said Navy Cmdr. Mike Scott, acting commanding officer, NAVSCIATTS.
"The way ahead for the WHINSEC/NAVSCIATTS relationship is to incorporate more into our FTX. Imagine the NAVSCIATTS boats inserting/extracting the WHINSEC students with helos providing additional support. We want to make our exercises realistic, so we are always looking for methods to bring the game to the next higher level."
The hope for both schoolhouses is that their students will take the information they've learned during this exercise back to their respective countries and implement them in their training with their subordinates as well as their peers.
"In the Belize Coast Guard we believe that knowledge possessed only by one person is not effective," said Lt. j.g. Javier Bosch with the Belize Coast Guard Service. "As soon as I return back to Belize, I will give back to my country everything that I learned here."