Killer Ex

The wall-muted pop-pop-pop of multiple rapid-fired gun shots is captured by your ears as you anxiously huddle against the cold stone walls.

BANG!! A door slams open followed by the pounding of multiple boots speeding up the stairwell as “GET DOWN, SHOW ME YOUR HANDS,” jar your ears.

No longer muted by a wall, the semi-automatic rat-a-tat-tat of the 5.56 mm simunitions echoes at a volume of 10. If your ear drums don’t burst, your heart will as your mind races on a track of unknown threats.

140207-G-TM873-102-Coast Guard MSST Training at Camp ShelbyThe guy next to you with a gun in his hand is restlessly shifting his weight from foot to foot. You sense he is preparing to fight and shoot the oncoming unknown assaulters.

You steal a glance at the gunman, who is now more agitated than before. Thoughts of “am I gonna get shot” and “what’s he gonna do,” jumble your mind.


The voices are close, you think.

The building tension reaches its zenith before the storm breaks and then….

“US COAST GUARD SHOW ME YOUR HANDS,” precedes the flood of blue-suited assaulters entering the room.

A quick glance to your right shows the gunman raising the muzzle of his gun followed by the swift ringing pop-pop-pop of gunfire. You see the gunman drop. Then, your vision is swarmed with blue-suited Coast Guardsmen telling you to put your hands on your heads and get down on your knees. 140207-G-TM873-040-Coast Guard MSST Training at Camp Shelby

You feel a cold pressure wrap around your wrists. Your thoughts flood with relief and confusion at not being shot but attempting to piece together what’s going on.

This scenario is one of many that Coast Guardsmen encounter during Tactical Sustainment Training.

“Tactical Sustainment Training develops team discipline, confidence and skills that require consistent training to maintain a high level of proficiency in a tactical maritime environment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Adam Burkley, deployable specialized forces branch chief.

Members of the Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center, with the deployable specialized forces branch, deploy on a quarterly basis to help Coast Guard tactical teams maintain the tactical competencies and close quarter’s combat techniques required.

Proficiency of craft is one of the Coast Guard commandant’s guiding principles for the service. By conducting training exercises in specified fields, Coast Guardsmen gain, maintain and refine the skills to complete their jobs accurately and safely.

The dissonance of voices yelling and guns firing force the doors and ears blown-open as you sit cuffed near the shot gunman. The cool cement floor is the only sanctuary in your already miserable situation.

A few more rounds of pop-pop-pop are muffled as the Coast Guardsmen continue to clear rooms in the controlled training environment. After a few more moments, the original chaos settles down to a calm wave of silence with splashes of voices intermittently filling the void.

“END EX! END EX! END EX,” is called out and repeated throughout the training facility.

The exercise is over.

A breath of relief escapes your lips without permission as you wait for someone to come take the cuffs off your wrists.

140207-G-TM873-025-Coast Guard MSST Training at Camp Shelby
The instructors monitoring the close quarter’s combat training call for everyone involved to gather and discuss the highlights of the exercise.

“What went well and what could you have done better,” asks the instructor. The trainees give their insights on what they could have done better.

As you patiently listen to their thoughts on the exercise you, as role player for this training exercise, know this aspect of the training is important. It’s important because the trainees are recognizing where they need work which helps them grow as Coast Guard maritime safety and security team members.

Greek philosopher Aristotle once said about practice, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

Coast Guard MSST members are no less dedicated to their field of law enforcement than any other Coast Guardsmen is to their field of expertise. Conducting close quarter’s combat is one of the many ways these Coast Guardsmen stay proficient and professional in their dedication to the Coast Guard and America.

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