The Deployable Operations Group is seeking at least 100 of the Coast Guard's finest junior officers and enlisted personnel to compete for the DOG's tactical billets by applying for the assessment and selection program, a rigorous week-long test of physical strength and mental savvy that also includes specialized training.
"I count on 'dogs that hunt' in all that I do," said Adm. Thad Allen, Coast Guard Commandant. "This command is organizationally that animal. It will be there for the American people - in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, a devastating hurricane or in response to a major oil spill." To become part of this animal, anyone with an interest in law enforcement should apply to attend the A&S program, which provides the basis for filling the tactical billets in the DOG's Deployable Specialized Forces. Specifically, the program focuses on filling the tactical billets on these DOG DSFs: Maritime Safety and Security Teams, the Maritime Security Response Team and Tactical Law Enforcement Teams.
The DOG, established in July 2007, provides the Coast Guard and interagency partners a one-stop shop for adaptive forces readily deployable to respond to the threats facing the United States. The DOG conducts its A&S program once a year on the Massachusetts Military Reservation, located on the same land as Air Station Cape Cod, Mass.
The A&S program offers a unique training opportunity. "It is a great way to see what the DSFs are all about and get some training you'll probably never get anywhere else," said MKCM Darrick Dewitt, the DOG's command master chief. "And, it will help you to make an educated decision down the road" about requesting to fill a DSF tactical billet.
The week-long program, run by top subject matter experts from the six types of DSFs, is grueling as it "tests for aptitude and ability to successfully integrate into one of our DSFs," said Capt. Mark Hemann, the DOG's division head for training and standardization.
Before their departure, the candidates receive feedback and find out if they have passed the program. The DOG and CG Personnel Command then work together, factoring in other assignment considerations, to fill the approximately 120 three-year tactical billets that are available each year.
The A&S program is similar to the Department of Defense's selection process of special force units, said Hemann, who noted it may not be as intensive, but it has the same objective.
"We're putting people in a stressful environment - 10 percent is physical, 90 percent is mental," said Hemann, who emphasized that the process pushes the candidates hard under timed conditions and tests their responses when they are tired. The program draws out the true leaders and quickly makes it apparent for others that tactical law enforcement is not for them.
Tests include physical training such as climbing up a caving ladder to simulate boarding a vessel, climbing down a repel tower to simulate a vertical insertion, a leadership reaction course, marksmanship and computerized simulations to test judgment.
At the A&S program, all candidates - officer and enlisted - are on equal footing, and most of the instructors are enlisted personnel. Junior officers are particularly encouraged to apply. Officers who compete in the A&S program should know that their future assignments will be determined to a much greater extent by their performance records as documented in their OERs than by the DOG assessments.
"All commanding officers and officers-in-charge are strongly encouraged to send forward the applications of any officers and enlisted personnel who have expressed a strong interest in these tactical billets," said Vice Adm. Vivien Crea, Vice Commandant.
Graduates of the Coast Guard's Maritime Law Enforcement Academy boarding officer or boarding team member courses are well-suited for the A&S program. "Someone who has gone through the MLEA has an excellent appreciation and understanding of the Coast Guard's law enforcement mission with the basic skills and training necessary to be successful DOG members," said Cmdr. Mark Wilbert, the MLEA's commanding officer. "It's an excellent opportunity for our graduates who currently are not in tactical billets to take their training and expertise to another level within the law enforcement field."
Also, deployed personnel who aren't able to attend the A&S program may take a local PT test; evaluators then will review the relevant records to make a recommendation. Personnel with past deployments have a great potential for successful integration into a DOG DSF, said Hemann.