Mak­ing the Cut

Firepower - - FEATURES -

Be­com­ing a BORTAC op­er­a­tive is a phased process that be­gins with an em­ploy­ment solic­i­ta­tion from the Bor­der Pa­trol Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Group based in El Paso, Texas.

To qual­ify to ap­ply, prospec­tive BORTAC op­er­a­tors must first at­tend the Bor­der Pa­trol Academy and be­come bor­der pa­trol agents. Af­ter sev­eral years in good stand­ing, they may then choose to pur­sue the Bor­der Pa­trol Op­er­a­tor path.

Later, comes an in­ter­view, along with phys­i­cal fit­ness and firearms pro­fi­ciency phases. If the agents meet the stan­dard re­quire­ments—and there are spots avail­able on the BORTAC roster— they’re in­vited to en­dure the BORTAC Se­lec­tion Course.

“It is very phys­i­cal, it’s very ar­du­ous and it’s very long. Dur­ing that phase, they’re try­ing to see if you have the at­tributes to be on the unit,” re­ported a spe­cial op­er­a­tions su­per­vi­sor and BORTAC com­man­der who has been with the bor­der pa­trol since 1994.

The course be­gins with phys­i­cal test­ing in­volv­ing a 1½ mile run, sprints, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and pis­tol qual­i­fi­ca­tion. The three- to five-week chal­lenge con­tin­ues with team-build­ing sce­nar­ios and phys­i­cal train­ing, with the goal of de­ter­min­ing whether the can­di­date has the char­ac­ter­is­tics re­quired in a BORTAC op­er­a­tive.

“The BORTAC Op­er­a­tors Train­ing Course is very spe­cific on team build­ing and the phys­i­cal part of deal­ing with prob­lem solv­ing,” the com­man­der said, not­ing that at this phase, the can­di­dates go through very lit­tle firearms train­ing. “We save some of the skill por­tion for later on, but we need to first see if this per­son even has the at­tributes that the unit wants.”

Sev­eral months af­ter the in­di­vid­u­als grad­u­ate, they go to the next phase, which is called the BORTAC Op­er­a­tor Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Course. This is when the tech­ni­cal as­pects of the job—in­clud­ing firearms skills—are taught, prac­ticed and im­ple­mented.

Af­ter suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing the course, the new BORTAC agent re­turns to his sec­tor and works along­side other op­er­a­tors while learn­ing ad­vanced tech­niques in weapons and tac­tics.

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