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FAST training with the US Marine Corps


Marines with Company C, 3rd Platoon, the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team, better known as FAST, fast rope out an MH-60 Seahawk during training aboard the afloat forward staging base USS Ponce, Sept. 18, 2015.

CHRIS CHURCH/STARS AND STRIPES

By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 5, 2015

For more than 65 years, U.S. Marines have been guarding U.S. embassies throughout the world.

Most of the time, those small detachments are enough to protect the U.S. diplomatic corps, even in the most unstable of countries.

Occasionally, they need help to keep compounds secure.

At those times, the Marine Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams, known as FAST, spring into action: The teams are designed to prevent or react to an overrun of U.S. government assets and protect employees and property.

After the 2012 Benghazi consulate attack, for instance, a FAST unit was sent to guard the U.S. embassy in Libya.

In the past five years, FAST members have also provided reinforcement for embassies in Kyrgyzstan, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and Iraq, according to Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Central Command.

The unit has three companies that regularly deploy to Europe, the Middle East, and Pacific regions. Currently, two platoons of FAST’s Company C are deployed to Bahrain.

However, reinforcing embassies is only one facet to the unit’s mission. FAST is also capable of providing increased security support for bases, ships and other State and Defense department facilities. Wherever an attack or a threat occurs against a national or naval asset, FAST can respond, said Maj. Conlon D. Carabine, FASCENT's commander.

To be ready to react at a moment’s notice, FAST Marines train ... a lot.church.chris@stripes.com

Marines with Company C , 3rd Platoon, the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team, better known as FAST, load onto an MH-60 Seahawk during fast-rope training aboard the afloat forward staging base USS Ponce, Sept. 18, 2015. FAST trains to provide quick-reaction reinforcement of security at U.S. naval and national assets, including U.S. embassies, for a limited duration.
CHRIS CHURCH/STARS AND STRIPES

FAST Marines practice skills


Marines with Company C, 4th Platoon, the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team, better known as FAST, practice basic marksmanship during a live-fire exercise in Bahrain. FAST trains to provide quick-reaction reinforcement of security at U.S. naval and national assets, including U.S. embassies, for a limited duration.

CHRIS CHURCH/STARS AND STRIPES

Recently, Platoon 3 spent a couple of nights onboard the USS Ponce, where Marines practiced fast-rope training onto a helicopter pad at sea and took part in 9 mm and .50 caliber weapons training. The unit spent nearly a year preparing for its current deployment to Bahrain, said Capt. Sean Graham, Platoon 3 commander.

During that time, the unit’s Marines trained on a wide variety of weapons systems and on nonlethal weapons such as pepper spray and tear gas. They also took part in chemical biological, radiological, and nuclear training; fast-rope training; close-quarters combat training; and advanced urban combat training.

“The skills that we have are perishable,” Graham said. “Just because you qualify on a weapon systems or for a skill set does not mean you are proficient at it. Continuing to train and sustain those skills is important.”

For those reasons, training doesn’t stop when a FAST platoon deploys. During that time, FAST may participate in various exercises, bilateral exchanges with regional partners and also cross training with other U.S. military assets, Graham said.

Over the summer, the two Company C platoons deployed to 5th Fleet in Bahrain have conducted training sessions with the Bahraini National Guard. Capt. Todd Sturgill, FAST Company C Platoon 4 commander, said the units worked together on combat marksmanship.

“It builds the camaraderie between the two militaries,” Sturgill said. “If there’s something that the Bahraini National Guard does better, it’s something we can learn from them. If we do something that’s a little bit different, it’s something they can add to their toolbox as well.”

All of the training FAST team does is geared toward one goal, Graham said.

“Doing these exercises is there to help sustain our capabilities to conduct our primary mission of reinforcing embassies.”

church.chris@stripes.com
Twitter: @CChurchStripes

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