GULF OF OMAN (NNS) -- U.S. Coast Guard advanced interdiction team (AIT) 12-07, assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard Deployable Operation Group, embarked guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) to augment the ship's visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team, July 26.
Comprised of Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET) South and Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) New York, AIT 12-07 is an experienced maritime interdiction team proficient in maritime boarding, international law, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics.
"We bring experience from a law enforcement perspective," said Maritime Enforcement Specialist 1st Class Carlos Perez, assistant team leader for AIT 12-07. "If any situation we find ourselves in makes case law, we also bring the experience of creating case packages for prosecution."
VBSS boardings are conducted to enforce safety regulations and international law, as well as deter illicit activity such as human-trafficking and narcotics smuggling. In order for AIT 12-07 and James E. Williams' VBSS team to operate jointly, the two teams must develop a solid working relationship.
"Developing a relationship is the biggest piece of the equation," said Lt. j.g. Matthew Kahley, team leader of AIT 12-07. "It's being able to rely on each other by knowing that we'll all be there doing the same mission, doing it together."
The first step in integration begins by incorporating shared experience and knowledge of both teams through a series of exercises aimed to establish roles and capabilities, said Kahley.
"Integration between James E. Williams' VBSS team and the AIT has been transparent," said Lt. Darin Dimmerling, boarding officer aboard James E. Williams. "Our training pipelines are very similar and include some of the same U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy Seal instructors."
From tactical movements and gear application, to the use of the force continuum and breaching, each exercise is designed to establish a working foundation for conducting VBSS boardings.
"Good communication is one of the most important aspects of integration," said Maritime Enforcement Specialist 1st Class Michael Vecchione. "[Good communication] is being on the same page by training together, and getting to know and understand each other's roles."
"The blending of the AIT into the VBSS team adds strength and a greater depth of experience," said Dimmerling. "It allows us to have two fully-qualified, 12-man teams who are fully capable of responding at a moment's notice."
James E. Williams is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and supporting missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
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