San Diego based Coast Guard anti-terrorism unit returns home from overseas deployment

11th Coast Guard District NewsSAN DIEGO – A San Diego-based U.S. Coast Guard anti-terrorism team will return home on Mother’s Day tomorrow from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after a six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

During the deployment, Maritime Safety and Security Team San Diego members formed the Joint Task Force Guantanamo Maritime Security Detachment and were responsible for securing the port and waterways around the base.

“The Coast Guard is a nimble service that consistently is able to adapt to multiple military missions,” said Cmdr. Eric Cooper, MSST San Diego’s commanding officer. “The team consistently demonstrates quiet professionalism in every job that we perform, and I am extremely proud of their impressive contributions to this strategically important mission for the United States.”

MSST San Diego boat crews, specialized in armed boat tactics and threat interdiction, conducted more than 4,500 hours of continuous patrols during the deployment.

The unit also provided shore-side security at Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which includes internal courtroom security for the expeditionary legal complex where military commissions for high value detainees are held.

Prior to deploying, unit members completed two-months of training that included boat and weapon qualifications, team coordination training and CPR certification. To augment the MSST’s active-duty component, reservists from across the nation were hand selected for the six-month deployment.

“During the deployment, the active and reserve components integrated seamlessly across all aspects and the reservists brought unique skill sets from their civilian jobs that greatly enhanced our effectiveness,” Cooper said.

The reservist members’ civilian occupations include everything from undergraduate students to police officers and airline employees. Each reservist volunteered for the deployment, were excited to join MSST San Diego and serve their country.

“My time working with the JTF has been an enlightening experience,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Laurie Fletcher, a Coast Guard Reservist normally assigned to Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. “Recently working with the Navy in CENTCOM as a communications supervisor, I was able to use that experience to bring knowledge to my job here in GTMO. Working closely with JTF and the Naval Station Guantanamo has helped me a gain a better knowledge of different branches of the military.”

MSST San Diego was created under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) in direct response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and is a part of the Department of Homeland Security’s layered strategy directed at protecting seaports and waterways.

MSSTs provide waterborne and a shore-side antiterrorism force protection for strategic shipping, high-interest vessels and critical infrastructure. These units are a quick response force capable of rapid worldwide deployment via air, ground or sea transportation in response to changing threat conditions and evolving maritime homeland security mission requirements.

Eleven MSSTs are strategically positioned throughout the nation and are components of the U.S. Deployable Operations Group (DOG). The DOG provides properly equipped, trained and organized Deployable Specialized Forces (DSFs) to Coast Guard, DHS, Department of Defense and interagency operational commanders.

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