Coast Guard appeases environmentalists by playing laser tag

This is just silly:Coast Guard laser tag training exercise

The U.S. Coast Guard will fire lasers — not live ammunition — at its own boats this morning in a sort of war-games training demonstration on Lake Erie.

Coast Guard personnel on the defender boat will be armed with machine guns and rifles loaded with blank ammunition and fitted with laser beam emitters.
The attack boat will have laser sensors on board that will reveal if it has been “hit” by the weapons aboard the defending boat.
The Coast Guard late last year dropped its proposal to conduct training exercises with machine guns loaded with live ammunition in 34 zones in the Great Lakes, including four in Lake Erie.
Rear Adm. John E. Crowley Jr. called that plan unsatisfactory after widespread complaints about safety and potential damage to the environment.
U.S. environmental groups and the Canadian Foreign Affairs minister said they were concerned that the bullets, which could dump some 7,000 pounds of lead compounds a year in the lakes, could be a health hazard to humans and wildlife.

Puh-leeze. This is just another example of the Coast Guard’s tendency to kowtow to environmentalist wackos. Trust me on this. I spent 2 1/2 years at USCG Headquarters in the office that oversees vessel traffic management in major ports. Ever since the Exxon Valdez spill, the environmentalist movement has been the 400-lb. gorilla in the room when it comes to the Coast Guard’s marine safety missions.
Has anyone demonstrated that the ammunition expended in true live fire exercises would actually cause the horrible environmental damage alleged? I’d love to see it, but I won’t hold my breath. These days all it takes to spook the federal government is an alarmist press release about impending environmental doom. Gathering facts is so tedious and dull, especially when you can use sexy computer models and glitzy ad campaigns instead.
Further, which is more important: preventing expended ammunition from entering the water, or preventing waterborne terrorists from attacking our northern shores? Those nice jihadist fellows would love to blow up a tanker or ore carrier, and given an opportunity they’d light off a dirty bomb near a major coastal city too. I invite the assorted Gaia-worshippers to consider the environmental damage attacks like these would cause (since the human death toll probably matters much less to them). Isn’t prevention of a true disaster worth the cost of small amounts of expended ammunition entering the lake?
One of the opponents of the original live fire training sees the foolishness in this laser tag exercise:

Dan Thomas, president of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council, one of the groups that had criticized the initial plan, had a mixed reaction to today’s planned demonstration.
“It sounds reasonable at first, but there’s also no substitution for the real thing,” Thomas said by telephone from his Chicago office. “Our group is not opposed to them using live ammunition, but we want them to be better at communicating to all interested parties when it is going to be conducting its exercises.”
Thomas said his group and others have also wanted the training to be done farther out in the lake if live ammunition will be used in the future. Today’s demonstration was supposed to take place from three to five miles from Cleveland.

A little more common sense would be nice, but alas, this is the Coast Guard we’re talking about.

  1. Shalom Puddle,
    Not silly at all. We used the Lasers on our M-16s and M-60s back in the ’80s during training exercises.
    It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to train with live ammo and shoot at each other now, would it?

  2. Shalom, Jeff.
    Yes, using lasers when the target’s another Coastie is preferable to bullets. You’ll get no complaints from me on that.
    What I find silly is using lasers only, and not using live ammo on moving (unoccupied) targets on the water. There’s nothing quite like standing on a moving boat, firing live rounds downrange through wind and spray, at another bobbing and weaving target. Lasers and blanks can’t teach that, nor can firing your M60 or M240 at Camp Perry.
    The Coast Guard must strive to train as realistically as possible, because when the battle begins the CG will certainly fight like it trains.

  3. Shalom Puddle,
    The Soviet Union used to train with live ammunition under the theory that the more you bleed in training, the less you bleed in Combat. And that’s true. But they lost a lot of soldiers in training.
    I was a GMM2 (0986) in the Navy, a track commander (SSG) in the 2/174th ADA in the National Guard and a platform instructor at Ohio’s Military Academy so I’ve put a lot rounds downrange from 5.62 to Terrier missiles. I do appreciate the value of the real thing. But all that lead is a problem.
    Take a look at a pro-hunting group named Ducks Unlimited. It was instrumental in passing a law requiring shotgun shell manufacturers to switch to steel shot because all the pellets were destroying the marshes and killing off the ducks before they could be hunted.

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