Senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visits Coast Guard HITRON

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Crewmembers of Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron Jacksonville hosted Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during his visit to HITRON Wednesday.

During the visit, Battaglia was given a tour of the facilities, including two of the assets used at the unit.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explores the instrument panel of the Midnight Express, a tactical training boat, during the SEAC's visit to Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron here in Jacksonville April 16. During the SEAC's visit, he met gained an understanding for the mission HITRON conducts in Jacksonville and down range. (DoD photo by Army Master Sgt. Terrence L. Hayes)

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explores the instrument panel of the Midnight Express, a tactical training boat, during the SEAC’s visit to Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron here in Jacksonville April 16. DoD photo by Army Master Sgt. Terrence L. Hayes

The first asset toured was the Midnight Express, a tactical training boat. Chief Petty Officer Robert Thomas described the capabilities of the boat and how it is used by the unit to practice helicopter interdictions. Battaglia was then shown to an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter used by the unit. He met with two of the helicopter crewmembers who briefed him on the use of the helicopters as well as the weapons systems used for law enforcement operations.

Battaglia received a briefing on HITRON’s history and general missions. He ended his visit by addressing enlisted personnel issues with the entire crew, conducting a question and answer period and participating in a presentation of awards for notable crewmembers.

Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia engaged with dozens of Coast Guardsmen to get feedback about personnel and budget issues.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff discusses the weapons systems used aboard a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter Wednesday, April 16, 2014, during a site visit to the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, in Jacksonville, Fla. The HITRON unit is a specialized Coast Guard law enforcement unit that is frequently involved in interdiction missions. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony L. Soto

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff discusses the weapons systems used aboard a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter Wednesday, April 16, 2014, during a site visit to the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, in Jacksonville, Fla. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony L. Soto

“I’m pleased to be able to learn more not only about missions, but the people and families behind them,” Battaglia said. “We have people out here working hard every day behind the scenes making a difference not for a pat on the back but because they take pride in what they do.”

HITRON’s counter-narcotics mission involves the appropriate force to interdict vessels and vector Over the Horizon Cutter Boats to the scene for apprehension, said Coast Guard Capt. Donna Cottrell, HITRON commanding officer.

“We can stop non-compliant vessels, narcotics, human trafficking and really anything,” Cottrell said. “We’ve disabled vessels that didn’t even have drugs on board, but had weapons and money, which is better since they’ve already sold the drugs. They’re headed back south but they can’t replace the money.”

In fiscal year 2013 HITRON was involved in 28 interdictions and the seizure of nearly 16 tons of cocaine totaling about $396 million, Cottrell said, adding they’ve also worked with law enforcement to apprehend 93 suspects.

Interdiction procedures and video evidence need to be flawless to make the cases and convictions, Cottrell said.

For more pictures of the Sargeant Major’s visit, click a photo.

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