MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — -- There is a hostage situation in a barracks. An assailant is holding a victim at knife point and has barricaded himself in the room. Normal tactics by the military police can’t diffuse the situation.
This is the type of scenario that members of the Special Reaction Team on Marine Corps Base here train and live for.
The mission of the team is a simple one, to plan for rehearse and conduct tactical operations and resolve high risk incidents with minimum force, according to the Sniper Team Leader whose name was withheld to preserve anonymity.
The team is selected from the best military policemen aboard the base, which must have the prerequisite of expert in rifle and pistol qualification, a first class physical fitness test and have at least a year of time on the road patrolling.
Hostage situations are just one of the missions the team trains for during their at least 30 hours of training a week. The team also trains for drug warrants, searches and seizures, barricaded suspects, counter sniper missions, vehicle assaults, emotionally or mentally disturbed suspects, security, reconnaissance and surveillance and quick reaction force missions.
To learn the skills required to excel in these missions, the team attends a variety of military and civilian schools including the special weapons and tactics team courses and the Scout Sniper Basic Course.
Even though the team can act as a small infantry unit, its purpose is not to act as the judge and jury, according to the Team Leader whose name was withheld to preserve anonymity.
“Even in our training missions we train to bring everyone out alive,” said the Team Leader.
The team learns unit cohesion and team work through their daily training, which includes the practice of entering different empty homes and office areas of the base. This also helps them to learn different layouts of buildings they could be operating in. This also teaches them be able to flow through their environment.
“Turn a house upside down and pour a pitcher of water into one of the windows and watch it flow through the house to the top and that is how we will flow through a house when clearing,” said the Assistant Team Leader whose name was withheld to preserve anonymity.
The team is on call 24 hours a day and because of this they are not allowed to travel far from the base.
The team is mostly unseen when they are operating, they are on standby for important events and act as security for important persons such as congressman, presidents and generals, but are rarely seen to hide their force.
“We do a lot of in the shadow operations,” said the Assistant Team Leader. “You never see SRT, we are always in the shadows.”