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New skill badges recognize unique naval operations qualifications

dimsum

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Navy News / May 15, 2019

The RCN is excited to recognize the professionalism and dedication of sailors who demonstrate leadership and a commitment to operational excellence by pursuing speciality training through the creation of three new specialist skill badges for members of the Naval Tactical Operations Group, Naval Security Team and Naval Boarding Party.

These sailors apply their skills in challenging operational environments and this recognition is long overdue.

“These new skill badges recognize specialized qualifications that enhance our capabilities across the spectrum of naval operations,” said Commodore Waddell, Director General of Naval Strategic Readiness. “I think it’s an outstanding development and critically important to recognize our sailors for their hard work and determination that contributes to our operational effectiveness at sea.”

The Naval Tactical Operations Group (NTOG) specializes in advanced boarding operations. They are a highly capable, rapidly deployable unit that is having tremendous effects on the high seas. This year alone, NTOG has worked alongside trusted international partners in North and West Africa and a detachment is embarked in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Regina supporting Operation ARTEMIS. HMCS Regina along with its NTOG detachment have been contributing to multinational efforts that keep the high seas safe and secure. The team has conducted multiple interdictions, seizing and destroying over 9,000 kilograms of illegal narcotics.

“For a member to put on this badge they must first successfully complete an arduous five day selection process and then be selected for and complete the even more demanding six month Maritime Tactical Operator’s Course (MTOC),” said Lieutenant-Commander Wil Lund, Commanding Officer of the NTOG. “It rewards years of personal training, preparation and dedication required to achieve this level of performance.  To be finally be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow operators and be part of the NTOG team as an equal is both humbling and exhilarating as the adventure is really just beginning.”

Wearing the badge comes with a huge burden of responsibility, said LCdr Lund. You are no longer a student. “Now you are an operator, driven by a relentless pursuit of excellence who must earn your place every day and represent the unit at all times both in Canada and around the world.”

The badges reflect a modesty of character and often escape notice. For those who do notice, the typical exchange is: “That’s pretty cool, how do I get one?” to which an operator typically jokes: “It’s pretty easy, it only takes five days.”

In addition to NTOG, Naval Boarding Parties (NBP) deploy with ships on operations all over the world. These sailors dedicate additional time to training and are able to operate in hazardous and challenging environments that require professional knowledge and skill above and beyond their general trade qualifications.

For Able Seaman Sebastien Barsetti, a part of HMCS Charlottetown, boarding party on Operation REASSURANCE, the most exciting part of being a member of the Naval Boarding Party is “climbing into the rigid-hulled inflatable boat, and splitting away from the side of our own ship, to conduct a boarding on another vessel. It’s an exciting challenge and once I’m in the RHIB, all worries are gone and all I can think about is how thankful I am to be there and to get to do this as my job.”

The Naval Security Team is a relatively new capability, designed to provide an extra layer of land and sea-based security to deployed RCN assets. The unit is self-sustaining and is able to operate in established or rudimentary sea ports anywhere in the world. Since its inception NST has supported multiple Operations including Operation PROJECTION Asia-Pacific where they provided force protection to HMCS Vancouver in Fiji and on Operation REASSURANCE where they provided force protection to HMCS St John’s in Denmark and HMCS Ville de Quebec in Greece.

“The NST allows the crew to take much-needed leave during longer deployments or to focus on other tasks, such as maintenance. I’m very happy the Naval Security Team is now a part of our spectrum of capabilities. Recognizing each of these sailors has been a long time coming,” said Commodore Waddell.

To be eligible for an RCN specialist skill badges, personnel must be in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as of April 1st, 2019 or later, wear the naval uniform and successfully complete one of the following courses: Naval Tactical Operations Qualification (NTOQ); Naval Boarding Party Basic Qualification (NBP Basic), and/or Naval Security Team Qualification (NSTQ).

The design of the badges was inspired by the functions their respective teams perform and feature symbols that foster pride in those who have earned the right to wear them. The shield shape represents the protection of Canada and its interests and more specifically the enhanced force protection capability enshrined in the Naval Tactical Operations Group, Naval Boarding Party and the Naval Security Team. The trident is an ancient symbol of naval power, as seen in common depictions of Neptune and Britannia.

Personnel who achieve more than one qualification shall be authorized to wear the highest qualification badge only. The order of precedence for these badges (highest to lowest) is NTOQ, NBP Basic and NSTQ.

Cloth versions of the badges will be made available in the future. Production of these badges through the national clothing procurement authority may take 12-24 months. In the interim, an allotment will be provided to training establishments to award during future course graduations. Those previously granted a NTOQ, NBP or NSTQ qualification will be presented the badge when they become available nationally.

Naval Combat Dress (NCD) and Naval Environment Combat Uniform (NECU) variants of these badges will be available when the national clothing procurement authority introduces these badges. Once the cloth badges are introduced, the existing NBP badge (blue badge with cross sword below a naval crown) will no longer be authorized for wear.

For more details and instructions on placement of the badges, please refer to the CANFORGEN: INTRODUCTION OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY SPECIALITY SKILL BADGES.

http://www.navy-marine.forces.gc.ca/en/news-operations/news-view.page?doc=new-skill-badges-recognize-unique-naval-operations-qualifications%2Fjvmqlycc&fbclid=IwAR34ca4EH_cM7psc3z7qijG7tQO2iOHo4YmPjRhABJPdsKG94BOYziuRZ0Y%27
 

AlDazz

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Have to give to the Navy. They are out patching the Army and Airforce together.  Our most conservative service has jumped on the bandwagon of buttons and bows. What's next?
 

brihard

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I didn't realize NTOQ was a six month course. I'd love to know more about what the curriculum looks like. Seems like the RCN isn't screwing around with this capability. Hopefully they can retain people.
 

Jarnhamar

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That seems exceptionally long. I'd love to read the curriculum too.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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While I don't know what is in the curriculum, I suspect the amount of material the operators need to go through and knowledge they need to acquire is quite impressive as compared to Army special operations needs.

First of all, they would operate outside actual war situations, and therefore must have a fairly complete knowledge of the law of the sea - which is much more complex and voluminous than the laws of war.

Second, unlike land operations where there is only so many things to figure out in a building, the differences in operating against a bulk carrier, a VLCC, a container ship, a cruise ship, or any other of dozens of specific types of vessels creates the need for distinct and separate knowledge bases that must be acquired, even if just to find their way around. Then there is the completely different sets of documents and informations that can be found and garnered from each of these different types of ships, of which they must have some knowledge.
 

Eye In The Sky

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
While I don't know what is in the curriculum, I suspect the amount of material the operators need to go through and knowledge they need to acquire is quite impressive as compared to Army special operations needs.

First of all, they would operate outside actual war situations, and therefore must have a fairly complete knowledge of the law of the sea - which is much more complex and voluminous than the laws of war.

Second, unlike land operations where there is only so many things to figure out in a building, the differences in operating against a bulk carrier, a VLCC, a container ship, a cruise ship, or any other of dozens of specific types of vessels creates the need for distinct and separate knowledge bases that must be acquired, even if just to find their way around. Then there is the completely different sets of documents and informations that can be found and garnered from each of these different types of ships, of which they must have some knowledge.

I know what you're saying but...in fairness, I think the Land Ops types do more than just "buildings".  ;)

Both sets of pro's are just that;  pro's in the unique environments.
 

FSTO

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The man behind NTOG did a turn at JTF2 before returning to the RCN. He recognized that our Naval Boarding Team training was not up to snuff (putting it lightly) and initiated some much needed changes. The NTOG is a step above the ships company NBP and uses many aspects of JTF2 assessments and training and thats why it is such a long course.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Brihard said:
I didn't realize NTOQ was a six month course. I'd love to know more about what the curriculum looks like. Seems like the RCN isn't screwing around with this capability. Hopefully they can retain people.

The Maritime Tactical Operator is an Maritime Interdiction Operations and Force Protection specialist.

MTO candidates may apply from all navy occupations and must undergo a 5 day (7 days for officers) Assessment Centre(MTO AC) at CFB Albert Head. Competitive candidates may beselected for training in the MTO Course (4.5 months long).Further specialised training is conducted at the unit as required after completion of the initial coursing.

MTO teams consist of 10-15 operators used for obstructed boardings using specialized equipment and robust PPE.  They are capable of advanced embarkation, tactical shooting, self-defence, TCCC,CQB, and IED ID methods.  When embarked, MTOs replace the 1st wave NBP and conduct FP at sea or alongside in higher threat environments.

FSTO said:
The man behind NTOG did a turn at JTF2 before returning to the RCN. He recognized that our Naval Boarding Team training was not up to snuff (putting it lightly) and initiated some much needed changes. The NTOG is a step above the ships company NBP and uses many aspects of JTF2 assessments and training and thats why it is such a long course.

I was having this discussion the other day with a couple of my friends who are clearance divers.  Why did the RCN not just give the enhanced boarding party mandate to the Clearance Divers?  They already have some of the requisite training, they work with CANSOFCOM already, it would give them a bigger role in operations. Yes it would probably necessitate an increase in numbers of Clearance Divers but it seems easier to me to surge training rather than start an entirely new unit from scratch.  The big difficulty seems to be numbers but perhaps the RCN should do a "troops to tasks" assessment of what the Clearance Divers actually do and go from there.  A big advantage of this would be that each fleet could have its own dedicated enhanced naval boarding element rather than an organization that somehow is supposed to support two fleets, one of which is 4 time zones away from its base of operations.

 

daftandbarmy

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Humphrey Bogart said:
The Maritime Tactical Operator is an Maritime Interdiction Operations and Force Protection specialist.

MTO candidates may apply from all navy occupations and must undergo a 5 day (7 days for officers) Assessment Centre(MTO AC) at CFB Albert Head. Competitive candidates may beselected for training in the MTO Course (4.5 months long).Further specialised training is conducted at the unit as required after completion of the initial coursing.

MTO teams consist of 10-15 operators used for obstructed boardings using specialized equipment and robust PPE.  They are capable of advanced embarkation, tactical shooting, self-defence, TCCC,CQB, and IED ID methods.  When embarked, MTOs replace the 1st wave NBP and conduct FP at sea or alongside in higher threat environments.

I was having this discussion the other day with a couple of my friends who are clearance divers.  Why did the RCN not just give the enhanced boarding party mandate to the Clearance Divers?  They already have some of the requisite training, they work with CANSOFCOM already, it would give them a bigger role in operations. Yes it would probably necessitate an increase in numbers of Clearance Divers but it seems easier to me to surge training rather than start an entirely new unit from scratch.  The big difficulty seems to be numbers but perhaps the RCN should do a "troops to tasks" assessment of what the Clearance Divers actually do and go from there.  A big advantage of this would be that each fleet could have its own dedicated enhanced naval boarding element rather than an organization that somehow is supposed to support two fleets, one of which is 4 time zones away from its base of operations.

Speaking as long term, capital 'I', Infantry guy, I find it sad that the Navy wants to be more like the Infantry. We've got that job pretty much dialed.

I was kind of hoping that they'd want to spend more of their time and resources to be more like a global, strategic, kick a$$, maritime military asset...

 

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daftandbarmy said:
Speaking as long term, capital 'I', Infantry guy, I find it sad that the Navy wants to be more like the Infantry. We've got that job pretty much dialed.

I was kind of hoping that they'd want to spend more of their time and resources to be more like a global, strategic, kick a$$, maritime military asset...

What experience does the Infantry have in terms of safely operating and shutting down (taking over) propulsion control and ancillary systems?

How many qualified bridge watchkeepers are in the Infantry?

I suppose they could take your Infanteers and give them 5-8 years of MOC training.

Seems a little shortsighted IMO.
 

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Brashendeavours said:
What experience does the Infantry have in terms of safely operating and shutting down (taking over) propulsion control and ancillary systems?

How many qualified bridge watchkeepers are in the Infantry?

Don't traditional boarding parties already know how to do that? 


I'm not familiar enough with that part of the Navy.

What does this capability bring that the Navy didn't already have?

Are these a dedicated trade group?  Do these guys fill other functions on ship?  Ie are they Boatswains on ship and act as operators when required or do they sit somewhere until needed?

Given manning shortfalls is this the best use of pers in the Navy?

daftandbarmy's post I think was meant to highlight that our Navy has far more pressing issues than having their own special force.  I don't know if that is actually the case or not.
 

Remius

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This part made me laugh.

The badges reflect a modesty of character and often escape notice

the whole point of a badge is to get noticed.
 

Halifax Tar

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Humphrey Bogart said:
I was having this discussion the other day with a couple of my friends who are clearance divers.  Why did the RCN not just give the enhanced boarding party mandate to the Clearance Divers?  They already have some of the requisite training, they work with CANSOFCOM already, it would give them a bigger role in operations. Yes it would probably necessitate an increase in numbers of Clearance Divers but it seems easier to me to surge training rather than start an entirely new unit from scratch.  The big difficulty seems to be numbers but perhaps the RCN should do a "troops to tasks" assessment of what the Clearance Divers actually do and go from there.  A big advantage of this would be that each fleet could have its own dedicated enhanced naval boarding element rather than an organization that somehow is supposed to support two fleets, one of which is 4 time zones away from its base of operations.

I think you highly underestimate how much the CLDs and CLDOs are actually interested in spending time on ships at sea, which is sole the operating environment of the NTOG. 

I think the current selection method is correct, CLDs are welcome to try out.

Having now sailed with NTOG now a few times, I will keep any further opinions for more face to face styled conversations.

 

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Humphrey Bogart said:
MTO candidates may apply from all navy occupations and must undergo a 5 day (7 days for officers) Assessment Centre(MTO AC) . . .

By "navy occupations", do they mean only those who wear a navy cap badge or is a navy uniform (regardless of occupation) the criteria?
 

brihard

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daftandbarmy said:
Speaking as long term, capital 'I', Infantry guy, I find it sad that the Navy wants to be more like the Infantry. We've got that job pretty much dialed.

I was kind of hoping that they'd want to spend more of their time and resources to be more like a global, strategic, kick a$$, maritime military asset...

How do you figure they want to be “more like infantry”? They have a tactical requirement in certain environments for gunfighters trained for a maritime environment, and apparently trained to a pretty high level. Putting a rifle in someone’s hand doesn’t make them infantry wannabes.

Operating on ships, particularly with contested or opposed boardings, is very much a niche specialty. In the law enforcement world it’s a special mission profile too, that only a subset of tactical teams do.

It looks to me like someone eminently qualified to speak to the matter was able to articulate and demonstrate the need, and pushed to have a new team developed that has now been fielded to at least an initial level of capability. They know their needs better than you or I.
 

Jarnhamar

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Brashendeavours said:
What experience does the Infantry have in terms of safely operating and shutting down (taking over) propulsion control and ancillary systems?

Easy.
1. They have careers of being ordered to do all kinds of jobs they're not trained for; and
2. They break everything they touch.

Remius said:
This part made me laugh.

The badges reflect a modesty of character and often escape notice

the whole point of a badge is to get noticed.

I got a kick out of that too.


[quote author=Brihard]

Operating on ships, particularly with contested or opposed boardings, is very much a niche specialty.
[/quote]

I recall hearing it's Canadian policy not to board ships that are contested. Was that incorrect?
 

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Jarnhamar said:
I recall hearing it's Canadian policy not to board ships that are contested. Was that incorrect?
That was very much a restriction in place before we developed a capability to carry those sort of missions out. The tail was wagging the dog on that one.
 

Jarnhamar

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Monsoon said:
That was very much a restriction in place before we developed a capability to carry those sort of missions out. The tail was wagging the dog on that one.

Now the RCN will board opposed ships with NTOG?
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Brashendeavours said:
What experience does the Infantry have in terms of safely operating and shutting down (taking over) propulsion control and ancillary systems?

How many qualified bridge watchkeepers are in the Infantry?

I suppose they could take your Infanteers and give them 5-8 years of MOC training.

Seems a little shortsighted IMO.

What experience does JTF2 have in this regard either?  They are able to carry out even more complex boarding operations.  Bring a specialist along for the ride or point a gun in someone's face and tell them to do it.  What your highlighting is not a critical requirement.

Brihard said:
How do you figure they want to be “more like infantry”? They have a tactical requirement in certain environments for gunfighters trained for a maritime environment, and apparently trained to a pretty high level. Putting a rifle in someone’s hand doesn’t make them infantry wannabes.

Operating on ships, particularly with contested or opposed boardings, is very much a niche specialty. In the law enforcement world it’s a special mission profile too, that only a subset of tactical teams do.

It looks to me like someone eminently qualified to speak to the matter was able to articulate and demonstrate the need, and pushed to have a new team developed that has now been fielded to at least an initial level of capability. They know their needs better than you or I.

What D&B was alluding too is the fact that opposed boardings are indeed an Infantry task.  They are usually carried out by Naval Infantry in other countries that have Naval Infantry or by Clearance Divers.

e.g.

Royal Navy - 43 Commando Royal Marines (specializing in MIO and Force Protection)

Boarding_Procedures_demonstrated_by_the_British_Royal_Marines.jpg


French Navy - French Naval Fusiliers and Marine Commandos

images


Royal Australian Navy - Australian Navy Clearance Divers

3223739872d4a6f118861c4288afdfc2--royal-australian-navy-soldiers.jpg


Dutch Navy - Dutch Marine Corps

enhanced-boarding-element-royal-netherlands-marine-corps-1.jpg


Danish Navy - Danish Frogman Corps

fromandskorpset-opt1.jpg


German Navy - German Frogman Corps

pah-47673400.jpg


For whatever reason though, the RCN has decided to go in another direction and create a brand new unit rather than using existing RCN assets e.g. Clearance Divers or go elsewhere for manpower.  It makes me wonder if NTOG is more useful as an actual capability or as a retention and marketing tool?

Halifax Tar said:
I think you highly underestimate how much the CLDs and CLDOs are actually interested in spending time on ships at sea, which is sole the operating environment of the NTOG. 

I think the current selection method is correct, CLDs are welcome to try out.

Having now sailed with NTOG now a few times, I will keep any further opinions for more face to face styled conversations.

From what I have heard, this seems to be the biggest issue.  The CD community doesn't want the task.  Too bad as it would help them shake the perception that they are a "dive club".

Btw, D&B is far too modest but I believe he speaks from a position of some knowledge having previously served in a certain foreign regiment that is tasked with carrying out these operations for a certain Navy.

Edit:

Don't take my comments as being unsupportive of this capability as I think it's about time we got with the times.  I question though whether the RCN is using certain organizations and/or resources appropriately?

The problem with too many "special" units is eventually nobody is special anymore.
 
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