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Tue, May 27, 2003

New CG HITRON Squadron Commissioned in JAX

The Commander of US Coast Guard Atlantic, Vice Admiral James Hull, formally commissioned a new Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON), at a ceremony on Monday, May 19, at the Cecil Commerce Center in Jacksonville, Florida. That unit is now one of many elite Coast Guard elements charged with protecting America's borders and waterways by using armed force from helicopters. In fact, the Coast Guard HITRON squadron is America’s first and only airborne law enforcement unit that is trained and authorized to employ airborne use of force.

HITRON was initially given the mission of interdicting and stopping drug-laden, high-speed vessels known as “go-fasts” in the Caribbean, and more recently the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The MH-68A helicopters employed by HITRON are the newest helicopters in the U.S. Coast Guard inventory and are capable of cruise speeds of up to 140 knots. The actions of the men and women of HITRON have been instrumental in stopping over 25 tons of illegal drugs, worth over $1.5 billion dollars, from reaching America’s neighborhoods.

Due to HITRON’s unique capabilities and training, the unit was additionally tasked to develop Airborne Use of Force tactics to counter possible terrorist threats to the United States. “HITRON will be a highly effective tool available to the leadership of the Homeland Security Department and the U.S. Coast Guard in the continuing national effort to prevent illegal drugs from entering the United States and to prevent terrorism in our homeland,” said Capt. Walter Reger, Commanding Officer.

“The use of Coast Guard HITRON for armed patrols will increase the level of security in our ports, provide an additional layer of defense, ensure continued safe flow of commerce and deter possible acts of terrorism in our nation’s key ports,” said Secretary Ridge.

FMI: www.uscg.mil

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