Georgia Guard Counterdrug Task Force Conducts Woodland Operations Training
VOLUNTEER TRAINING SITE — CATOOSA, Ringgold, Ga., May 19, 2010 — More than 20 local, state and federal officers from departments and agencies across Georgia are taking part in the five-day Woodland Training course put on by the Georgia Counterdrug Task Force (GaCDTF) and taught by Georgia Army Guardsmen who make up the task forces’ Ground Reconnaissance Teams.
The officers pictured here are gathering at a rally point before moving on to their objective — a sparsely wooded area being used by simulated drug dealers for a simulated drug deal.
While some of the participating officers are prior military, most are not. This is the first time many have worked together or worked with the task force. Training includes land navigation, movement as a tactical team, patrol and reconnaissance operations, team development, and the use of cover and concealment done in what the military calls the “crawl, walk and run” phases.
“We start slow and build-up until they’re running their own missions with our people standing by to answer questions,” said one course instructor. Because of the nature of their work, instructors and many of the officers cannot be identified by name or department.
The training’s main emphasis, according to another instructor, is the art of military mission planning. “Many civilian law enforcement agencies use a ‘plan in the van’ mentality because many of the operations they do are short notice,” he explained. “What we do is give them the tools to do that planning — even on the fly — better.”
These joint trainings, have allowed GaCDTF, Guard, local, state and federal authorities to hone their skills and streamline their interoperability. This highly proficient teamwork was on full display during a successful narcotics seizure made in Georgia’s Rabun County early in April of this year.
Assisted by the Georgia Counterdrug Task Force, GBI’s Regional Drug Office, Narcotics Criminal Investigation and Suppression (N.C.I.S.) Team, the ATF, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources seized more than 700 marijuana plants. The street value of the plants is estimated at $3.5 million.
Large amounts of money were also confiscated, along with a stolen Georgia Power electrical transformer used to siphon power from Habersham Electrical Management Company. According to police reports, the transformer was used to supply electrical power to two semi-truck trailers buried in a tunnel 100 feet beneath a utility building. The alleged trafficker was growing, and harvesting his illegal crop inside the tunnel trailers.
“Drug dealers aren’t just in the city,” said one of the officers going through this year’s training. “They’re using the beauty of our rural communities to hide their activities. By putting to use what we learn here at the Woodland Training Course, my colleagues and I can make a greater difference in the fight against illegal drugs,” he added.
The Woodland Training Course has been in operation for 13 years. The concept was fostered by now retired Georgia Army Guard Sgt. Maj., and retired Gordon County Police Chief, Therrell Goswick. Goswick was also a founding member of the counterdrug task force, then known as the Governor’s Strike Force.
While Woodland Training is an annual course, the operational commitments of the Georgia National Guard to the Global War on Terror have sometimes restricted the GaCDTF’s availability to participate.