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Coast Guardsmen to Join Navy SEAL Teams

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2008 – Coast Guardsmen soon will be training to join Navy SEAL teams, a senior Coast Guard officer said today.

Rear Adm. Thomas F. Atkin, commander of the Coast Guard’s deployable operations group, said four Coast Guardsmen -- two officers and two enlisted sailors -- will be selected to begin basic underwater demolition school later this year.

If they graduate, the admiral said, they will become full-fledged members of Navy SEAL teams and deploy with those teams worldwide.

Atkins called the development the beginning of an exciting new era in the Coast Guard.

“Certainly this is historic, it’s different, but it’s very consistent with the long partnership we’ve had with the United States Navy,” he said during a conference call with bloggers.

SEAL teams are among the most elite military units in the world, he noted. “We understand that, and we will strive to find the best and the brightest here in the Coast Guard to support that program,” the admiral said.

The Coast Guard will get a capability it does not have right now, he said. “We will get a great skill set and experience set from what they will learn,” the admiral said. “We think this program will bring a lot of experience back to the deployable operations group and the Coast Guard as a whole.”

The service will accept applications through the middle of next month. At that point, the service -- in coordination with the Navy Special Warfare Command -- will select the Coast Guard candidates.

The Coast Guard has “a military mission; we have a counterterrorism mission; we have an anti-terrorism mission; and we also have a mission to conduct high-end specialized law enforcement in the Caribbean, the Eastern Pacific and around the homeland,” Atkins said.

SEAL training provides the service with increased capabilities and more experience, and it also will help Coast Guard’s relationship with the Navy and the U.S. Special Operations Command.

The Navy also benefits from the Coast Guardsmen becoming SEALs, the admiral said.

“The Coast Guardsmen will bring their knowledge base on maritime operations, law enforcement operations, port security and homeland security to the SEAL teams,” Atkins said. “These are experiences these folks don’t have.”

The more diverse an operational group is, the better off it is, he said.

“It doesn’t mean the SEAL teams are going to conduct law enforcement operations, but understanding how law enforcement operations work and understanding the experiences a new person brings to the team will only make them better,” he said.

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Biographies:
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Thomas F. Atkin

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