Protecting America: A day in the life of an ME “A” school student

This is part of a series highlighting the Coast Guard’s law enforcement missions and operations. Under 14 USC § 2, the U.S. Coast Guard is the only federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in both U.S. waters and on the high seas. The Coast Guard enforces U.S. laws and treaties focused on conducting multi-agency counterdrug operations, interdicting illegal migrants and contraband, protecting living marine resources, ensuring maritime homeland security and helping to stem weapons proliferation, among other critical tasks.

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Maritime Enforcement Specialist "A" school logo.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist “A” school logo.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist “A” school is a challenging and rigorous course of instruction provided at the Maritime Law Enforcement Academy in Charleston, South Carolina. This demanding nine-week course teaches Coast Guard active and reserve personnel how to execute the Coast Guard’s unique law enforcement mission in a safe, legal and professional manner. Each year the staff at MLEA trains and graduates more than 150 students who receive orders to 450 units across the Coast Guard.

What does a day in the life of an ME student look like?

During the fast-paced training program a major emphasis is placed on leadership, military bearing, and the Coast Guard core values. Students undergo uniform inspections that emphasize the importance of a professional appearance. Additionally, students are expected to utilize proper military formations while transiting around the campus.

During the fast-paced training a major emphasis is placed on leadership development, military bearing, and the Coast Guard's core values. Uniform inspections emphasize the importance of a professional appearance. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

During the fast-paced training a major emphasis is placed on leadership development, military bearing, and the Coast Guard’s core values. Uniform inspections emphasize the importance of a professional appearance. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

Students receive training on physical techniques, handcuffing, and defensive tactics. They are evaluated on their ability to perform all techniques with precision and are graded by an instructor who uses a checklist to ensure accuracy. A student can expect to spend 40 hours practicing the basic techniques before a practical evaluation in week five.

Students train in defensive tactics and physical techniques of law enforcement. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

Students train in defensive tactics and physical techniques of law enforcement. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) provides a state-of-the-art indoor firing range that the students utilize during training. A class will spend 90 hours on weapons familiarization and conducting live-fire exercises. A student will fire approximately 3,000 rounds of ammunition throughout the duration of the course. Those students who score the highest combined scores in pistol, rifle, and shotgun will be awarded the “top shot” during the graduation ceremony in front of their peers, family and guests.

Anti-terrorism and Force Protection courses teach students how to conduct vehicle inspections, prevent terrorism, and respond to a terrorist attack. Nearly 24 hours of training are dedicated to this phase of the training program.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist "A" school students perform an anti-terrorism training scenario. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist “A” school students perform an anti-terrorism training scenario. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Physical fitness is a major aspect of the training program. Students will train three to four days a week and the instructor staff ensures each student pushes themselves to achieve exceptional fitness levels. Students will also participate in water confidence drills and swim efficiency training. The goal of the rigorous fitness program is to teach students the importance of operational fitness and how to maintain it after graduating from the course.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist "A" school students focus on physical fitness during their training program. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist “A” school students focus on physical fitness during their training program. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist "A" school students focus on physical fitness during their training program. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist “A” school students focus on physical fitness during their training program. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

Tactical Procedures training is provided to teach the students how to effectively work as a team in a use of force situation. Scenarios are presented to the students that include “sim” rounds which are similar to paintball ammunition. Tactical Procedures require students to think quickly and make the appropriate use of force decision in order to pass the course.

A Maritime Enforcement Specialist "A" school student undergoes Tactical Procedures training. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A Maritime Enforcement Specialist “A” school student undergoes Tactical Procedures training. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Self Aid Buddy Aid (SABA) teaches the students how to identify and treat life-threatening injuries that occur during use of force scenarios. SABA is approximately 16 hours of training in advanced first-aid techniques that include combat tourniquets and nasopharyngeal airways.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist "A" school students practice first aid techniques in force scenarios. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist “A” school students practice first aid techniques in force scenarios. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

Students that meet all of the course objectives and pass their final evaluations are formally graduated by the commanding officer of the Maritime Law Enforcement “A” school. Each member will receive orders to a multitude of units including Coast Guard cutters, Coast Guard Police Department, Sector Enforcement Teams, Tactical Law Enforcement Detachments (TACLET), Marine Safety and Security Teams (MSST), Maritime Security Response Teams (MSRT), Marine Safety Units (MSU), Coast Guard stations, and Port Security Units (PSU).

Maritime Enforcement Specialist graduation class 702 in Charleston, S.C. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist graduation class 702 in Charleston, S.C. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

For more information regarding the course visit the MLE Academy online.

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