NAVSCIATTS Helps Strengthen Partner Nations

The Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School operates under U.S. Special Operations Command in support of geographic combatant commanders’ security cooperation priorities.
Geraldine Cook/Diálogo | 26 April 2019

Capacity Building

Students at NAVSCIATTS participate in a field training exercise. (Photo: Angela Fry, NAVSCIATTS Public Affairs Office).

A group of Latin American military special forces listens to a briefing about U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean. They visited SOUTHCOM in the summer of 2018 as part of an international course for strategic leaders at the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS) at John C. Stennis Space Center, Mississippi. Most of them are high-ranking officers from Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador with one common goal: to expand their strategic thinking and planning skills.

International students work on an outboard motor as part of the Outboard Motor Maintenance and Overhaul Course at NAVSCIATTS. (Photo: U.S. Navy Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Ward).

The school offers the Strategic Leaders International Course (SLIC) in Spanish to advance the strategic thinking and planning capabilities of senior military, civilian, and law enforcement personnel from Latin American and Caribbean partner nations. The four-week in-resident course is aimed at units with a mission to combat terrorism.

“It’s a very rewarding experience to be in NAVSCIATTS because it allows us to acquire the skills to solve problems in a strategic way—not only in the short or medium term—to find a solution to the root of the problem,” said Colombian Navy Captain Rodrigo Domingo Rodríguez, commander of the military Unified Action Group for Personal Liberty—known as GAULA—in Tumaco. “It allows us to learn how different government agencies and military forces work jointly with the same goal of finding solutions to the problems our countries face.”

NAVSCIATTS operates under U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in support of geographic combatant commanders’ security cooperation priorities. It trains partner nations’ Special Operations Forces (SOF), SOF-like foreign security forces, and SOF enablers.

“We are 100 percent focused on training U.S. partner nations. It’s a very significant asset,” said U.S. Navy Commander John T. Green, commandant of NAVSCIATTS. “We see ourselves as building friendships and partnerships all over the world around the training, but the purpose is no less than to make the world better and safe.”

NAVSCIATTS trains at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels to strengthen partner nations’ capabilities across the full spectrum of operations, including small craft operations in riverine or littoral environments. Its curriculum includes courses in small craft strategy, operations, communications, weapons maintenance, and instructor development, among others.

“We encourage partner nations to bring complete units to NAVSCIATTS, including commanders, tactical operators, and support personnel,” said Cmdr. Green. “It’s more like mission preparation or unit level training for our partners.” 

Where the classroom meets the field

NAVSCIATTS opened its doors in 1961 at U.S. Naval Station Rodman, Panama, as a U.S. Coast Guard Mobile Training Team (MTT). In 1999 it relocated to Mississippi, where it fulfills its mission to conduct foreign internal defense in support of SOCOM priorities. Through the use of MTTs and in-resident training, the school has trained nearly 12,000 students from 118 partner nations.

“Students change how they perceive the world, the future of their country, and their challenges. Central and South America are unique, and many challenges across the region are similar from the security sector, human migration, transnational crime and the illicit traffic of drugs, gangs and people,” said Robert Gusentine, director of SLIC. “We encourage students to think differently. We give them knowledge, tools, and mental models that will enable them to understand and shape their world in new ways.”

SLIC is one of 20 formal courses NAVSCIATTS offers annually in English, Spanish, and other languages during five in-resident semesters. As the school’s slogan suggests, “Where the classroom meets the field,” courses are interactive with discussions, tabletop exercises, and practical and experiential learning.

In addition to acquiring the skills needed for specific SOF missions, NAVSCIATTS students become part of a global SOF network. “In addition to the knowledge we acquire, we’re learning from other cultures and participating countries’ strategies to confront our problems,” said Capt. Rodríguez.

“We have a very special heritage and connection with South and Central America,” added Cmdr. Green. “We are developing the capability to eliminate or at least manage the illicit networks that exists in SOUTHCOM’s area of operations to ensure that they don’t harm the partner nations or the United States.”

An international student fires the M240B machine gun during marksmanship training at the range. (Photo: Angela Fry, NAVSCIATTS Public Affairs Office).

A group of Latin American military special forces listens to a briefing about U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean. They visited SOUTHCOM in the summer of 2018 as part of an international course for strategic leaders at the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS) at John C. Stennis Space Center, Mississippi. Most of them are high-ranking officers from Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador with one common goal: to expand their strategic thinking and planning skills.

The school offers the Strategic Leaders International Course (SLIC) in Spanish to advance the strategic thinking and planning capabilities of senior military, civilian, and law enforcement personnel from Latin American and Caribbean partner nations. The four-week in-resident course is aimed at units with a mission to combat terrorism.

“It’s a very rewarding experience to be in NAVSCIATTS because it allows us to acquire the skills to solve problems in a strategic way—not only in the short or medium term—to find a solution to the root of the problem,” said Colombian Navy Captain Rodrigo Domingo Rodríguez, commander of the military Unified Action Group for Personal Liberty—known as GAULA—in Tumaco. “It allows us to learn how different government agencies and military forces work jointly with the same goal of finding solutions to the problems our countries face.”

NAVSCIATTS operates under U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in support of geographic combatant commanders’ security cooperation priorities. It trains partner nations’ Special Operations Forces (SOF), SOF-like foreign security forces, and SOF enablers.

“We are 100 percent focused on training U.S. partner nations. It’s a very significant asset,” said U.S. Navy Commander John T. Green, commandant of NAVSCIATTS. “We see ourselves as building friendships and partnerships all over the world around the training, but the purpose is no less than to make the world better and safe.”

NAVSCIATTS trains at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels to strengthen partner nations’ capabilities across the full spectrum of operations, including small craft operations in riverine or littoral environments. Its curriculum includes courses in small craft strategy, operations, communications, weapons maintenance, and instructor development, among others.

“We encourage partner nations to bring complete units to NAVSCIATTS, including commanders, tactical operators, and support personnel,” said Cmdr. Green. “It’s more like mission preparation or unit level training for our partners.”

Where the classroom meets the field

NAVSCIATTS opened its doors in 1961 at U.S. Naval Station Rodman, Panama, as a U.S. Coast Guard Mobile Training Team (MTT). In 1999 it relocated to Mississippi, where it fulfills its mission to conduct foreign internal defense in support of SOCOM priorities. Through the use of MTTs and in-resident training, the school has trained nearly 12,000 students from 118 partner nations.

“Students change how they perceive the world, the future of their country, and their challenges. Central and South America are unique, and many challenges across the region are similar from the security sector, human migration, transnational crime and the illicit traffic of drugs, gangs and people,” said Robert Gusentine, director of SLIC. “We encourage students to think differently. We give them knowledge, tools, and mental models that will enable them to understand and shape their world in new ways.”

SLIC is one of 20 formal courses NAVSCIATTS offers annually in English, Spanish, and other languages during five in-resident semesters. As the school’s slogan suggests, “Where the classroom meets the field,” courses are interactive with discussions, tabletop exercises, and practical and experiential learning.

In addition to acquiring the skills needed for specific SOF missions, NAVSCIATTS students become part of a global SOF network. “In addition to the knowledge we acquire, we’re learning from other cultures and participating countries’ strategies to confront our problems,” said Capt. Rodríguez.

“We have a very special heritage and connection with South and Central America,” added Cmdr. Green. “We are developing the capability to eliminate or at least manage the illicit networks that exists in SOUTHCOM’s area of operations to ensure that they don’t harm the partner nations or the United States.”

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