Hostage Rescue Team
Overview
 
The FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) is the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

's counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

 paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 tactical team. The HRT is trained to rescue U.S. citizens and allies who are held by a hostile force, either terrorist or criminal. The Hostage Rescue Team was founded in 1982 by Danny Coulson
Danny Coulson
Danny Coulson is the former Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI. In his thirty-year tenure at the FBI, Coulson created and commanded the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team and commanded four field divisions....

 and completed its final certification exercise in October 1983.

The HRT's purpose is to serve as a domestic counter-terrorism unit, offering a tactical resolution option in hostage
Hostage crisis
A hostage crisis develops when one or more terrorists or criminals hold people against their will and try to hold off the authorities by force, threatening to kill the hostages if provoked or attacked....

 and high-risk law enforcement situations.
Encyclopedia
The FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) is the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

's counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

 paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 tactical team. The HRT is trained to rescue U.S. citizens and allies who are held by a hostile force, either terrorist or criminal. The Hostage Rescue Team was founded in 1982 by Danny Coulson
Danny Coulson
Danny Coulson is the former Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI. In his thirty-year tenure at the FBI, Coulson created and commanded the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team and commanded four field divisions....

 and completed its final certification exercise in October 1983.

The HRT's purpose is to serve as a domestic counter-terrorism unit, offering a tactical resolution option in hostage
Hostage crisis
A hostage crisis develops when one or more terrorists or criminals hold people against their will and try to hold off the authorities by force, threatening to kill the hostages if provoked or attacked....

 and high-risk law enforcement situations. It was originally composed of 50 Operators; however, this number has since increased to well over 90 full-time Operators. The HRT commonly functions as a national SWAT
SWAT
A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

 team in highly sensitive or dangerous situations. Today it is part of the Tactical Support Branch of the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group
Critical Incident Response Group
The Critical Incident Response Group is the part of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation which facilitates the FBI's rapid response to, and the management of, crisis incidents...

 (CIRG) and is based at the FBI Academy
FBI Academy
The FBI Academy, located in Quantico, Virginia, is the training site for new Special Agents of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was first opened for use in 1972 on 385 acres of woodland. It is a relatively small government academy, housing three dormitory buildings and...

 in Quantico
Quantico, Virginia
- Demographics :As of the census of 2000, there are 561 people, 295 households, and 107 families living in the town. The population density is . There are 359 housing units at an average density of .-Racial composition:...

, Virginia.

History

The idea for the HRT was originally conceived during the late 1970s but came to life when then FBI director William H. Webster witnessed a demonstration by the US Army Delta Force
Delta Force
1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta is one of the United States' secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units. Commonly known as Delta Force, Delta, or The Unit, it was formed under the designation 1st SFOD-D, and is officially referred to by the Department of Defense...

. When Webster reviewed the equipment used by the Delta Force and noticed there were no handcuffs, he inquired about it. An Operator grimly replied, "We put two rounds in their forehead; the dead don't need handcuffs." The idea of the HRT began as an enhanced SWAT
SWAT
A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

 and counter-terror team. The team would be capable of handling extraordinary hostage situations, large-scale counter-terrorist operations, situations involving nuclear
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 or biological agents, or operations that local law enforcement or the regional FBI field office were not trained or equipped to handle. Final approval for the HRT was given in early 1982, and formal planning began in March 1982. The initial HRT selection course was held in June 1982 and consisted of three groups of thirty candidates each. Most candidates were experienced SWAT team members. Of this group, fifty candidates were selected to continue on to more advanced training.

Upon completing its initial Operator selection, the newly formed HRT began acquiring the equipment it believed necessary and upgrading training facilities at Quantico
FBI Academy
The FBI Academy, located in Quantico, Virginia, is the training site for new Special Agents of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was first opened for use in 1972 on 385 acres of woodland. It is a relatively small government academy, housing three dormitory buildings and...

. One of the very first projects was the construction of a "shoot house". The building, built entirely out of old tires, would allow the team to conduct live-fire training exercises to enhance their shooting skills. The final touches were added to the facilities just before Thanksgiving 1982, and, after a short holiday break, the team began its initial training program. After receiving tactical SWAT instruction, each individual was given an expertise to research, such as explosives and breaching
Door breaching
Door breaching is a process used by military, police, or emergency services to force open closed and/or locked doors. A wide range of methods are available, one or more of which may be used in any given situation...

 tactics. Each Operator also served as a liaison to one of the existing elite counter-terrorism teams from around the world. In addition, nearly everyone was involved with the Delta Force. As part of their liaison duties, the men attended training exercises held by their assigned counter-terrorism unit and their shared experiences with the team. To bring all the newly acquired skills together, the team spent roughly the entire month of January 1983 honing their shooting and tactical skills at Quantico. Then, the team traveled to Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg (North Carolina)
Fort Bragg is a major United States Army installation, in Cumberland and Hoke counties, North Carolina, U.S., mostly in Fayetteville but also partly in the town of Spring Lake. It was also a census-designated place in the 2010 census and had a population of 39,457. The fort is named for Confederate...

, North Carolina, in February for a month of training with the US Army's Delta Force. Delta Force provided the HRT with a wide-ranging block of instruction that covered a number of topics that would be useful during their future operations. The team returned to Quantico to further enhance their new abilities and maintain the skills they had acquired at Fort Bragg. The Hostage Rescue Team became operational in August 1983.

The team's final certification exercise, code named Operation Equus Red, was held in October 1983 at Kirtland Air Force Base
Kirtland Air Force Base
Kirtland Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located in the southeast quadrant of the Albuquerque, New Mexico urban area, adjacent to the Albuquerque International Sunport. The base was named for the early Army aviator Col. Roy C. Kirtland...

, New Mexico. During the exercise, the HRT, a local SWAT
SWAT
A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

 team, and a United States Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

 Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) were tasked with assaulting a terrorist stronghold. The "terrorist" group was also believed to be in possession of a simulated nuclear device, which was at a separate location and had to be recovered or neutralized. After the NEST aircraft confirmed the location of the device, HRT Operators assaulted the terrorist safehouse, secured the device, and managed to "kill" the terrorist involved in approximately 30 seconds. The FBI's Senior Leadership viewed the exercise as a complete success and granted final approval for the team to become fully operational.

Upon completing the certification exercise, the HRT began to expand its capabilities by sending small teams of Operators out for more specialized training courses. Approximately a dozen Operators visited Naval Amphibious Base Coronado
Naval Amphibious Base Coronado
Naval Amphibious Base Coronado is a naval installation located across the bay from San Diego, CA. The base, situated on Silver Strand, between the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, is a major Navy shore command, supporting over 30 tenant commands, and is the West Coast focal point for special...

 to receive combat diver
Frogman
A frogman is someone who is trained to scuba diving or swim underwater in a military capacity which can include combat. Such personnel are also known by the more formal names of combat diver or combatant diver or combat swimmer....

, maritime operations, and tactics (such as Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure
Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure
Visit, board, search, and seizure is the term for maritime boarding actions and tactics, designed to capture enemy vessels, to combat terrorism, piracy and smuggling, and to conduct customs, safety and other inspections, as employed by modern navies, marine and maritime services, military and...

) training from the United States Navy SEALs
United States Navy SEALs
The United States Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command.The acronym is derived from their...

. Other team members conducted helicopter operations and aerial insertion training with the US Army's Task Force 160. The United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 provided the team with training in small unit tactics, night operations, and part of the HRT's sniper program training. Every Operator also received 80 hours of medical training. The HRT traveled to Camp Peary
Camp Peary
Camp Peary is a military reservation in York County near Williamsburg, Virginia. Officially it is referred to as the Armed Forces Experimental Training Activity under the auspices of the Department of Defense, but it is widely believed to be the location of a covert CIA training facility known...

 for counter-terrorism training and "smash and bang" courses to develop skills in breaching barricades, running roadblocks, and defensive driving.

Over time, HRT Operators studied among US military, local, federal, and international tactical teams, and attended private courses to learn more about air assault
Air assault
Air assault is the movement of ground-based military forces by vertical take-off and landing aircraft—such as the helicopter—to seize and hold key terrain which has not been fully secured, and to directly engage enemy forces...

 tactics, rappelling
Abseiling
Abseiling , rappelling in American English, is the controlled descent down a rock face using a rope; climbers use this technique when a cliff or slope is too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection.- Slang terms :...

, hand-to-hand combat, chemical agents
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

, terrorist psychology, surveillance methods, sniping
Sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

/counter-sniping
Counter-sniper tactics
Counter-sniper tactics involves tactics used by a sniper against another sniper.The occurrence of sniper warfare has led to the evolution of many counter-sniper tactics in modern military strategies...

, communications and more. Tactics learned during training was shared with the team. Eventually, for CQB training, the HRT decided to make things more realistic on advice from SEAL Team Six (later known as United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group , commonly known as DEVGRU and informally by its former name SEAL Team Six , is one of the United States' four secretive counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units .The vast majority of information about DEVGRU is highly classified, and...

 or DEVGRU) commander Richard Marcinko
Richard Marcinko
Richard "Dick" Marcinko , is a retired Commander in the United States Navy and a former Navy SEAL. He was the first Commanding Officer of SEAL Team Six and Red Cell...

, and the HRT introduced blood bags and wax bullets. The wax bullets were used for team-versus-team drills.

The HRT became part of the Critical Incident Response Group
Critical Incident Response Group
The Critical Incident Response Group is the part of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation which facilitates the FBI's rapid response to, and the management of, crisis incidents...

 upon its formation in 1994 because of the need to consolidate the assets necessary to respond to a critical incident in one group.

Capabilities

The HRT's equipment and tactics are the most advanced of the FBI's 56 field office SWAT teams
FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams
FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams are specialized tactical teams of the Federal Bureau of Investigation . SWAT agents are specially trained to intervene in high-risk events like hostage and barricade situations. The FBI maintains SWAT teams at each of its 56 field offices throughout the...

 and the 14 enhanced SWAT teams. The HRT's capabilities are distinguished because the HRT Operators (assault and sniper teams) serve full time and train daily.

One of the essential capabilities that distinguish the HRT from other tactical teams is the ability to fast-rope
Fast-roping
Fast-roping, sometimes known as Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System , is a technique for descending a thick rope. It is useful for deploying troops from a helicopter in places where the helicopter itself cannot touch down. First developed by the British with UK rope manufacturer Marlow Ropes,...

, a technique where the assault team rapidly descends a rope from the side of a helicopter. The HRT has the ability "to deploy within four hours, with part or all of its personnel and resources, to any location within the United States or its territories". The unit possesses highly-regarded skills such as advanced tactics, night and low-light operation skills, the ability to operate in a variety of environments (chemical, extreme cold, or rural environments), and maritime operation skills, above and beyond the FBI Field Office SWAT teams' skills.

Maritime capabilities

The HRT as a whole possesses enhanced capabilities in the maritime domain, including advanced "breaching
Door breaching
Door breaching is a process used by military, police, or emergency services to force open closed and/or locked doors. A wide range of methods are available, one or more of which may be used in any given situation...

" capabilities (the ability to circumvent locked doors aboard a ship), ship-boarding
Boarding (attack)
Boarding, in its simplest sense, refers to the insertion on to a ship's deck of individuals. However, when it is classified as an attack, in most contexts, it refers to the forcible insertion of personnel that are not members of the crew by another party without the consent of the captain or crew...

 capabilities. The HRT has vessels that are outfitted for maritime assaults, most of which have been upgraded since 2004.

The HRT also has a specialized maritime team with additional maritime capabilities including subsurface diving, closed-circuit diving
Rebreather
A rebreather is a type of breathing set that provides a breathing gas containing oxygen and recycled exhaled gas. This recycling reduces the volume of breathing gas used, making a rebreather lighter and more compact than an open-circuit breathing set for the same duration in environments where...

 (scuba gear that does not emit bubbles), and combat swimming
Frogman
A frogman is someone who is trained to scuba diving or swim underwater in a military capacity which can include combat. Such personnel are also known by the more formal names of combat diver or combatant diver or combat swimmer....

. All Operators on the maritime team are military trained in closed-circuit diving and combat swimming. In addition, the maritime team assault element has an Operator who is qualified to pilot and operate a freighter.

Aviation capabilities

The HRT operates a Tactical Aviation Unit, which is staffed by FBI special agents. The Tactical Helicopter Unit, a sub-unit of the aviation unit, contains a variety of helicopters specially modified for the HRT's use. These helicopters include
eight military converted UH-60 Black Hawk tactical transport helicopters and several McDonnell Douglas 530 Little Bird
MH-6 Little Bird
The MH-6 Little Bird , and its attack variant AH-6, are light helicopters used for special operations in the United States Army. Originally based on a modified OH-6A, it was later based on the MD 500E, with a single five-bladed main rotor...

 light helicopters. Unlike the military, whose aircraft are not always in the same location as the tactical operators, the HRT’s Tactical Helicopter Unit is literally right out the front door from the HRT central command. The HRT's Tactical Aviators are required to fly daily.

Roles

The two chief roles of the HRT are:
  • Hostage rescue
    Hostage crisis
    A hostage crisis develops when one or more terrorists or criminals hold people against their will and try to hold off the authorities by force, threatening to kill the hostages if provoked or attacked....

  • Domestic and foreign counter-terrorism
    Counter-terrorism
    Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...



Secondary roles of the HRT are:
  • Apprehending barricaded subjects
  • Helicopter operations and rescue missions
  • High-risk raids, searches, arrests, and warrants
  • Mobile assaults
  • Manhunt and rural operations
  • Force protection for FBI personnel overseas


To a lesser extent the HRT may deploy teams or individual Operators to act as sniper
Sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

s or to provide protective service details to certain high-profile federal witnesses or dignitaries. The teams of the HRT cycle out and provide support to missions overseas, such as Iraq and Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, supporting Joint Terrorism Task Force
Joint Terrorism Task Force
A Joint Terrorism Task Force is a partnership between various U.S. law enforcement agencies that is charged with taking action against terrorism, which includes the investigation of crimes such as wire fraud and identity theft...

s and performing typical law enforcement activities such as making arrests, processing scenes for evidence recovery, and testifying in court, at home and abroad.

The HRT has performed traditional law enforcement roles during hurricane
Tropical cyclone
A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...

 relief operations, tactical surveys, and, on occasion, pre-positions in support of special events such as the Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

, presidential inauguration
Presidential Inauguration
A Presidential Inauguration is a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of a leader's term of office. To see detailed information on specific presidents, see the links below:* Brazilian presidential inauguration* Croatian presidential inauguration...

s, and political conventions.

Selection and training

Prospective HRT operators are selected based upon their background and experience, as well as their demonstrated performance during the HRT selection course, which is held once a year. The rigorous two-week selection process includes long-distance runs, forced marches, obstacle courses, and other tests of physical and mental stamina. Throughout the entire selection process, candidates are evaluated on their ability to think under pressure and to perform while physically exhausted. After a four-month initial training period known as "New Operator Training School" or "NOTS", they are headquartered at the FBI Academy
FBI Academy
The FBI Academy, located in Quantico, Virginia, is the training site for new Special Agents of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was first opened for use in 1972 on 385 acres of woodland. It is a relatively small government academy, housing three dormitory buildings and...

, Quantico
Quantico, Virginia
- Demographics :As of the census of 2000, there are 561 people, 295 households, and 107 families living in the town. The population density is . There are 359 housing units at an average density of .-Racial composition:...

. Experienced HRT operators assigned to observer/sniper
Sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

 teams are sent to the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Basic Course, and, after successfully completing the course, they receive further instruction by HRT snipers.

When not operationally deployed, HRT conducts full-time training for its members at various sites across the country. Two to three hours each day are set aside for physical training, a defensive tactics session, and combatives
Combatives
Combatives is a United States Army term for hand-to-hand combat training and techniques.-History:Militaries have long taught unarmed combat, both as physical conditioning and as a supplement to armed combat. Among the samurai of Japan, such combatives were known as Bujutsu...

 training. One day a week is devoted to maintaining perishable skills, such as fast roping, breaching, photography, or specialized skills such as mobile assaults, manhunt and rural operations, maritime operations, helicopter operations, weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

 training (which is provided by the United States Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

), and cold weather operations. Three days are spent honing sniping or CQB
Close quarters battle
Close quarters combat or close quarters battle is a type of fighting in which small units engage the enemy with personal weapons at very short range, potentially to the point of hand-to-hand combat or fighting with hand weapons such as swords or knives...

 skills on the various training ranges available to the team. Every other week, there is one day allotted for gear maintenance, and discretionary time to be used by team leaders is built into the schedule. During a routine week of training, it is not unusual for HRT operators to fire 1,000 rounds of ammunition to keep their shooting skills honed. The HRT also participates in at least one major combined exercise every 12 to 18 months that involves a variety of governmental entities, such as the FBI and the departments of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

, State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

, Energy, and Homeland Security
United States Department of Homeland Security
The United States Department of Homeland Security is a cabinet department of the United States federal government, created in response to the September 11 attacks, and with the primary responsibilities of protecting the territory of the United States and protectorates from and responding to...

.

The three teams rotate through three 120-day cycles: training, operations, and support. During the training cycle, the team refreshes its skills and takes part in exercises, attends other courses, or trains with foreign and domestic units. During the operations cycle, the team is available for deployment (domestic or foreign). During the support cycle, the team works on special projects, maintains the HRT's equipment, and conducts research.

The HRT is known to conduct joint training exercises and participate in exchange programs with US military
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 units such as the US Army's Combat Applications Group (otherwise known as 1st SFOD-D Delta Force
Delta Force
1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta is one of the United States' secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units. Commonly known as Delta Force, Delta, or The Unit, it was formed under the designation 1st SFOD-D, and is officially referred to by the Department of Defense...

) or the U.S. Navy's DEVGRU
United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group , commonly known as DEVGRU and informally by its former name SEAL Team Six , is one of the United States' four secretive counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units .The vast majority of information about DEVGRU is highly classified, and...

. Also the HRT routinely trains with other federal tactical teams such as the DEA's FAST Team, United States Border Patrol
United States Border Patrol
The United States Border Patrol is a federal law enforcement agency within U.S. Customs and Border Protection , a component of the Department of Homeland Security . It is an agency in the Department of Homeland Security that enforces laws and regulations for the admission of foreign-born persons to...

's BORTAC
BORTAC
BORTAC is an initialism for the United States "Border Patrol Tactical Unit". BORTAC is the paramilitary arm of the United States Border Patrol.-Mission:...

 unit or the United States Capitol Police
United States Capitol Police
The United States Capitol Police is a federal police force charged with protecting the United States Congress within the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its territories.-History:...

's CERT. Occasionally, the HRT trains with France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

's GIGN, Britain's
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 SAS
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

  and Special Boat Service
Special Boat Service
The Special Boat Service is the special forces unit of the British Royal Navy. Together with the Special Air Service, Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group they form the United Kingdom Special Forces and come under joint control of the same Director Special...

, Australian SAS, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

's GSG 9
GSG 9
The GSG 9 der Bundespolizei , is the elite counter-terrorism and special operations unit of the German Federal Police.-History and name:...

, and other international units. In addition to the HRT's own facilities, the HRT routinely uses private and 1st SFOD-D Delta Force shoot houses and ranges. The HRT has also been known to train at Camp Peary
Camp Peary
Camp Peary is a military reservation in York County near Williamsburg, Virginia. Officially it is referred to as the Armed Forces Experimental Training Activity under the auspices of the Department of Defense, but it is widely believed to be the location of a covert CIA training facility known...

 and Harvey Point
Harvey Point
The Harvey Point Defense Testing Activity facility, owned by the Department of Defense, is located on a peninsula in Perquimans County, North Carolina, along the Albemarle Sound, near the city of Hertford, NC. Established in World War II as an operating base for sea planes conducting anti-submarine...

.

Operations

Since its inception, HRT members have been involved in many of the FBI's most high-profile cases, executing numerous operations involving domestic militant groups, terrorists
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

, and violent criminals. The first test of the team's capabilities came in the summer of 1984, when the team deployed to Los Angeles as part of the security buildup prior to the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. Some cases have brought the HRT a lot of unwanted, and possibility unwarranted, attention. The HRT came under increased public and Congressional scrutiny, along with federal law enforcement in general, due to what some saw as heavy-handed tactics used at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

On the other hand, the HRT has been involved in over 200 successful missions, both in the US and abroad. Many of these low-key operations have received little or no attention from the world press. Some higher-profile cases include the Waco Siege
Waco Siege
The Waco siege began on February 28, 1993, and ended violently 50 days later on April 19. The siege began when the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms attempted to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel, a property located east-northeast of Waco,...

, Ruby Ridge
Ruby Ridge
Ruby Ridge was the site of a violent confrontation and siege in northern Idaho in 1992. It involved Randy Weaver, his family, Weaver's friend Kevin Harris, and agents of the United States Marshals Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation...

, the capture of the suspected masterminds of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies
1998 United States embassy bombings
The 1998 United States embassy bombings were a series of attacks that occurred on August 7, 1998, in which hundreds of people were killed in simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the United States embassies in the East African capitals of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The date of the...

 in Africa, and the hostage rescue operations of prison guards at Talladega, Alabama
Talladega, Alabama
Talladega is a city in Talladega County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 15,143. The city is the county seat of Talladega County. Talladega is approximately 50 miles east of Birmingham, Alabama....

, and St. Martinville, Louisiana
St. Martinville, Louisiana
St. Martinville is a city in and the parish seat of St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, United States. It lies on Bayou Teche, sixteen miles south of Breaux Bridge, eighteen miles southeast of Lafayette, and nine miles north of New Iberia. The population was 6,989 at the 2000 census. It is part of the...

. All of these incidents led to changes in how and when the HRT is used by the FBI.

Weapons

When the team was founded, HRT Operators used the 9mm FN-Browning Hi-Power
Browning Hi-Power
The Browning Hi-Power is a single-action, 9 mm semi-automatic handgun. It is based on a design by American firearms inventor John Browning, and completed by Dieudonné Saive at Fabrique Nationale of Herstal, Belgium. Browning died in 1926, several years before the design was finalized...

 Mk 2 pistol, which was later supplemented by the 9mm SIG P226
SIG P226
The SIG P226 is a full-sized, service-type pistol made by SIG Sauer. It is chambered for the 9×19mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, .357 SIG, and .22 Long Rifle. It is essentially the same basic design of the SIG P220, but developed to use higher capacity, staggered-column magazines in place of the...

 pistol. In 1995, 250 .45 ACP
.45 ACP
The .45 ACP , also known as the .45 Auto by C.I.P., is a cartridge designed by John Browning in 1904, for use in his prototype Colt semi-automatic .45 pistol and eventually the M1911 pistol adopted by the United States Army in 1911.-Design and history:The U.S...

 Les Baer
Les Baer
Les Baer Custom Inc. is an American weapons manufacturer of semi-custom M1911-pattern pistols and AR-15 type rifles. Les Baer Custom was founded by the gunsmith Les Baer, Sr. in 1991 in LeClaire, Iowa.-History:Les Baer Custom Inc...

 SRP Bureau pistols, built on a high-capacity Para-Ordnance
Para-Ordnance
Para-Ordnance, is a Canadian firearms manufacturer founded in Toronto in 1985 by two childhood friends, Ted Szabo and Thanos Polyzos. Szabo was born in Hungary and his family fled the country when the Russians invaded during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. Polyzos was born in Greece and later...

 frame, were acquired for use. After an official FBI Request for Proposal (RFP) in 1997, the HRT demanded their duty pistol meet additional, more stringent standards. Eight companies responded to the RFP. Each company submitted five pistols for testing. While all of the FBI's requirements were demanding, the most rigorous was accuracy. Chosen at random, two of the five guns had to shoot no more than 1.5 in (3.8 cm) at 25 yard for three 10-shot groups from a Ransom Rest. Then the guns would be shot for 20,000 rounds in an endurance test, after which a second accuracy test would be conducted with no more than 15 percent degradation in accuracy being acceptable. The only pistol to meet the FBI's standards was Springfield Armory's 1911 pistol. Springfield's FBI contract pistol, known as "The Professional Model" is available to civilians at a cost close to $2595.00. As a form of quality control, the gunsmith building the pistol does not know if the firearm is going to be issued to an FBI agent or a private citizen.

HRT armories are stocked with specially modified Heckler & Koch MP5
Heckler & Koch MP5
The Heckler & Koch MP5 is a 9mm submachine gun of German design, developed in the 1960s by a team of engineers from the German small arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch GmbH of Oberndorf am Neckar....

 series submachine gun
Submachine gun
A submachine gun is an automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges. It combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol. The submachine gun was invented during World War I , but the apex of its use was during World War II when millions of the weapon type were...

s (primarily the MP5/10A3 10mm and MP5SD6 9mm models) that have been outfitted with laser aiming devices, SureFire
Surefire
SureFire, LLC. is a Fountain Valley, California company whose primary products are flashlights, headlamps, weapon mounted lights and laser sights. In addition, Surefire also manufactures knives, sound suppressors, Picatinny Rails and batteries. The company is a major supplier of flashlights to the...

 tactical light
Tactical light
A tactical light is a flashlight used in conjunction with a firearm to aid low light target identification, allowing the marksman to simultaneously aim and illuminate the target. Tactical lights can be handheld or mounted to the weapon with the light beam parallel to the bore...

s, and forward pistol grips. Several models have either an Aimpoint
Aimpoint AB
Aimpoint AB is a Swedish optics company manufacturing red dot sights for civilian, police and military use. The most popular model is the CompM2 , currently used by numerous armed forces around the world.- Company :...

 red dot sight
Red dot sight
A red dot sight is a common classification for a type of non-magnifying reflector sight for firearms that gives the user an aimpoint in the form of an illuminated red dot...

 or a holographic weapon sight
Holographic weapon sight
A holographic weapon sight or holographic diffraction sight is a non-magnifying gun sight that allows the user to look through a glass optical window and see a reticle image superimposed at a distance on the field of view...

 attached.

The rifles in use by the team are the Colt M16A2
M16 rifle
The M16 is the United States military designation for the AR-15 rifle adapted for both semi-automatic and full-automatic fire. Colt purchased the rights to the AR-15 from ArmaLite, and currently uses that designation only for semi-automatic versions of the rifle. The M16 fires the 5.56×45mm NATO...

, Colt CAR-15A2 Model 777
CAR-15
The Colt Automatic Rifle-15 Military Weapons System or CAR-15 was a family of AR-15 and M16 rifle–based firearms marketed by Colt in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Due to their compact size, the short-barreled Colt Commando and XM177 versions of this family continued to be issued to the U.S...

, M4
M4 carbine
The M4 carbine is a family of firearms tracing its lineage back to earlier carbine versions of the M16, all based on the original AR-15 designed by Eugene Stoner and made by ArmaLite. It is a shorter and lighter variant of the M16A2 assault rifle, with 80% parts commonality.It is a gas-operated,...

/M4A1 5.56mm
5.56x45mm NATO
5.56×45mm NATO is a rifle cartridge developed in the United States and originally chambered in the M16 rifle. Under STANAG 4172, it is a standard cartridge for NATO forces as well as many non-NATO countries. It is derived from, but not identical to, the .223 Remington cartridge...

 carbines, M14
M14 rifle
The M14 rifle, formally the United States Rifle, 7.62 mm, M14, is an American selective fire automatic rifle firing 7.62x51mm NATO  ammunition. It was the standard issue U.S. rifle from 1959 to 1970. The M14 was used for U.S...

 7.62mm, and H&K HK33E 5.56mm assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

s. The sniper rifle
Sniper rifle
In military and law enforcement terminology, a sniper rifle is a precision-rifle used to ensure more accurate placement of bullets at longer ranges than other small arms. A typical sniper rifle is built for optimal levels of accuracy, fitted with a telescopic sight and chambered for a military...

s are Remington M40A1 .308
.308 Winchester
The .308 Winchester is a rifle cartridge and is the commercial cartridge upon which the military 7.62x51mm NATO centerfire cartridge is based. The .308 Winchester was introduced in 1952, two years prior to the NATO adoption of the 7.62x51mm NATO T65...

 sniper rifles customized to HRT standards and generally outfitted with Unertl scopes. As necessary, HRT has access to Barrett M82A1 .50 caliber
.50 BMG
The .50 Browning Machine Gun or 12.7×99mm NATO is a cartridge developed for the Browning .50 caliber machine gun in the late 1910s. Entering service officially in 1921, the round is based on a greatly scaled-up .30-06 cartridge...

 anti-materiel rifle
Anti-materiel rifle
An anti-materiel rifle is a rifle that is designed for use against military equipment rather than against other combatants ....

s and 7.62×51mm Heckler & Koch PSG1
Heckler & Koch PSG1
The PSG1 is a semi-automatic rifle designed by the German company Heckler & Koch of Oberndorf am Neckar.-Development:...

 sniper rifles.

In addition, the HRT may use a modified Remington 870
Remington 870
The Remington Model 870 is a U.S.-made pump-action shotgun manufactured by Remington Arms Company, Inc. It is widely used by the public for sport shooting, hunting, and self-defense. It is also commonly used by law enforcement and military organizations worldwide.-Development:The Remington 870 was...

 12-gauge shotgun
Shotgun
A shotgun is a firearm that is usually designed to be fired from the shoulder, which uses the energy of a fixed shell to fire a number of small spherical pellets called shot, or a solid projectile called a slug...

s.

Less-than-lethal
Less-lethal weapon
Non-lethal weapons, also called less-lethal weapons, less-than-lethal weapons, non-deadly weapons, compliance weapons, or pain-inducing weapons are weapons intended to be less likely to kill a living target than are conventional weapons...

 munitions include single and multi-shot 37mm gas launchers, M79
M79 grenade launcher
The M79 grenade launcher is a single-shot, shoulder-fired, break-action grenade launcher that fires a 40x46mm grenade which used what the US Army called the High-Low Propulsion System to keep recoil forces low, and first appeared during the Vietnam War...

 40mm
40 mm grenade
The 40mm grenade is a military grenade caliber for grenade launchers in service with many armed forces. There are two main types in service: the 40×46mm, which is a low-velocity round used in hand-held grenade launchers; and the high-velocity 40×53mm, used in mounted and crew-served weapons. The...

 grenade launchers, Taser
Taser
A Taser is an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles. Its manufacturer, Taser International, calls the effects "neuromuscular incapacitation" and the devices' mechanism "Electro-Muscular Disruption technology"...

s, and flashbang diversionary/distraction devices.

Additionally, the HRT has access to a variety of other weapons, such as the Heckler & Koch UMP
Heckler & Koch UMP
The UMP is a submachine gun developed and manufactured by Heckler & Koch. The UMP has been adopted by various agencies such as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection...

 (generally .45 caliber), or the HK53, if the mission dictates so.

Casualties

The HRT has suffered two known casualties, both training related. The first was James K. McAllister who died during a fast rope training exercise in 1986. The second known casualty was Gregory J. Rahoi, who died in a live fire exercise in 2006.

In May 2005, an FBI HRT McDonnell Douglas 530 "Little Bird
MH-6 Little Bird
The MH-6 Little Bird , and its attack variant AH-6, are light helicopters used for special operations in the United States Army. Originally based on a modified OH-6A, it was later based on the MD 500E, with a single five-bladed main rotor...

" conducting a fast rope exercise crashed. Crew members sustained injuries, however none were life-threatening.

Notable operators

  • Danny Coulson
    Danny Coulson
    Danny Coulson is the former Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI. In his thirty-year tenure at the FBI, Coulson created and commanded the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team and commanded four field divisions....

     — FBI HRT Founder and former Commander. Later, Coulson was the deputy assistant director of the FBI. Prior to creating the HRT, Coulson served on one of the FBI SWAT teams, more specifically a sniper team, and he later commanded one of the most active SWAT teams in the FBI. As of July 2009, Danny Coulson is a successful security consultant, author, and guest speaker.

  • Lon Horiuchi
    Lon Horiuchi
    Lon Tomohisa Horiuchi is a U.S. FBI HRT sniper who was involved in controversial deployments during the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff and 1993 Waco Siege. In 1997, Horiuchi was charged with manslaughter for the death of Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge; the case was dismissed.-Early life:Horiuchi, the son of...

     — Former FBI HRT operator and sniper who was charged with manslaughter following the shootings during the Ruby Ridge
    Ruby Ridge
    Ruby Ridge was the site of a violent confrontation and siege in northern Idaho in 1992. It involved Randy Weaver, his family, Weaver's friend Kevin Harris, and agents of the United States Marshals Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation...

     standoff. The charge was dismissed and Horiuchi was later deployed during the Waco Siege
    Waco Siege
    The Waco siege began on February 28, 1993, and ended violently 50 days later on April 19. The siege began when the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms attempted to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel, a property located east-northeast of Waco,...

    .

  • Christopher Whitcomb
    Christopher Whitcomb
    Chistopher Whitcomb is an American author and former member of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team. He also appeared as an "expert" on the NBC game show Identity.-History with the FBI:...

     — Former FBI HRT operator and sniper. Whitcomb spent 15 years with the FBI and was involved with the Waco Siege, Los Angeles riots of 1992, and Ruby Ridge. As of July 2009, Whitcomb is an American author and appeared as an "expert" on the NBC game show Identity
    Identity (game show)
    Identity is a reality/game show, hosted by Penn Jillette and produced by Reveille where contestants could win money by matching 12 strangers one-by-one to phrases about their identities.-Format:A contestant is introduced to twelve strangers...

    .

  • James K. McAllister — The first of the HRT's two known casualties.

  • Gregory J. Rahoi — The second casualty of the HRT. Rahoi was accidentally shot and fatally wounded at Fort A.P. Hill
    Fort A.P. Hill
    Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, is an active duty installation of the United States Army, located near the town of Bowling Green, Virginia.Named for Confederate Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill, Fort A.P...

     in Caroline County, Virginia, during a live-fire tactical training exercise designed to prepare him for his deployment to Iraq. Rahoi had been assigned to the HRT for six years during which he served three tours in Iraq. He worked as a firefighter, paramedic, police officer, and lawyer in Wisconsin prior to joining the FBI. He was posthumously awarded the FBI Medal of Valor for acts of heroism during his final Iraq tour, and his family was presented with the FBI Memorial Star.

  • Thomas R. Norris
    Thomas R. Norris
    Thomas Rolland Norris is a retired United States Navy SEAL who received the Medal of Honor for his ground rescue with the assistance of Petty Officer Third Class Nguyen Van Kiet of two downed pilots in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam on April 10, 1972 – April 13, 1972...

     — Original member of the HRT as an assault team leader. Former US Navy SEAL and a Medal of Honor
    Medal of Honor
    The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

     recipient.

See also

  • FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams
    FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams
    FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams are specialized tactical teams of the Federal Bureau of Investigation . SWAT agents are specially trained to intervene in high-risk events like hostage and barricade situations. The FBI maintains SWAT teams at each of its 56 field offices throughout the...

  • Counter-terrorism
    Counter-terrorism
    Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

  • Critical Incident Response Group
    Critical Incident Response Group
    The Critical Incident Response Group is the part of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation which facilitates the FBI's rapid response to, and the management of, crisis incidents...

  • SWAT
    SWAT
    A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

  • 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force)
    Delta Force
    1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta is one of the United States' secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units. Commonly known as Delta Force, Delta, or The Unit, it was formed under the designation 1st SFOD-D, and is officially referred to by the Department of Defense...

  • Manhunt
    Manhunt (law enforcement)
    In law enforcement, a manhunt is a search for a dangerous fugitive involving the use of all available police units and technology and sometimes help from the public....

  • U.S. Diplomatic Security Service
    Diplomatic Security Service
    The U.S. Diplomatic Security Service is the federal law enforcement arm of the United States Department of State. The majority of its Special Agents are members of the Foreign Service and federal law enforcement agents at the same time, making them unique...

     - Mobile Security Deployments (MSD)
    Mobile Security Deployment
    The Office of Mobile Security Deployment ' is a small, specialized unit within the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service of the United States Department of State...

  • U.S. Air Force Office of Special InvestigationsStrategic Irregular Tactics Team

Further reading

  • Christopher Whitcomb, Cold Zero: Inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team (2001) ISBN 0-316-60103-9
  • Danny Coulson, No Heroes: Inside the FBI's Secret Counter-Terror Force (1999) ISBN 0-671-02061-7
  • Thomas H. Ackerman, FBI Careers: The Ultimate Guide To Landing A Job As One Of America's Finest (2004) ISBN 1-56370-890-6

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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