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Operational Detachment Alpha 1425 trains with U.S. Coast Guard

Published: 04:13PM September 18th, 2013
Operational Detachment Alpha 1425 trains with U.S. Coast Guard

Capt. Matthew Nihill

Team members from 4th Batt., 1st SFG conduct boat casting training near United States Coast Guard Port Angeles Air Station, Wash.

Team members from Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) conducted maritime training with the United States Coast Guard rescue swimmers at Port Angeles Sept. 3 to 6.

The protected harbor of Port Angeles allowed the detachment to conduct maritime operations without the threat of civilian boat traffic, providing the detachment the opportunity to conduct F-470 Zodiac boat movements, beach landings, boat submersion drills, and boat recovery drills safely and without interruption.

“It was a great chance to work with a unit outside of the Department of Defense, which we rarely get to do outside of deployments,” said Master Sgt. Jon Tornbom, the team’s operational sergeant.

United States Coast Guard Port Angeles Air Station, Wash., is located on a federally owned peninsula with beaches, boat ramps, an air strip and a nearby private pool. In addition, its deep and long harbor allows for deep diving and long movements protected from the ocean’s waves with limited boat traffic, providing an ideal location for the Coast Guard rescue swimmers and the Special Forces Dive Team to practice maritime maneuvers.

“The Coast Guard rescue swimmers are the subject matter experts in rough seas survival,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Hammond. “It is our hope to increase our competence by training with these experts.”

In addition to the detachment specific-skills, the training event offered a unique collaborative opportunity for the detachment and the Coast Guard. Each branch benefited from the knowledge shared by the other branch.

“I enjoyed the increased understanding of inter-agency interoperability, which will hopefully lead to future joint training opportunities,” Added Sgt. 1st Class Zachary Wegehoft.

The cold waters and rough surf taught the Special Forces team a greater appreciation for the Coast Guard swimmer’s working environment and a new-found respect for these dedicated men who swim year round in cold and rough conditions to save others.

The training also allowed the detachment and rescue swimmers to learn about the other’s role and mission.

“After seeing them in the water, I acquired a great new respect for what they do,” said Tornbom.

Overall, the training was successful in improving the detachment’s maritime skills, nautical movements, and overall mission readiness. As an added bonus, the event laid the foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship between the Coast Guard and Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group.