USMC Fleet Antiterrorism
Security Team (FAST)
U.S. Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security
Team (FAST) Company
armed, combat-trained cadre
organized and equipped to perform security missions
of short duration
installation security when the threat condition
has been elevated beyond the capability of the
permanent security force
installation security forces in antiterrorism
and weapons marksmanship
the base security officer in the preparation of
base defense and other security plans
by combatant and fleet commanders-in-chief
only upon approval of the Chief of Naval Operations
Established in 1987, FAST Company is
comprised of 500+ Marines equipped to perform security
missions as directed by the Chief of Naval Operations.
FAST Company Marines augment installation security
when a threat condition is elevated beyond the ability
of resident and auxiliary security forces. They are
not designed to provide a permanent security force
for the installation.
FAST Company is primarily
designed to conduct defensive combat operations, military
security operations, and rear area security operations.
It also can be tailored for specific tasks from the
Chief of Naval Operations. They also ensure nuclear
material on submarines is not compromised when the
vessels are docked.
Following the bombing in Saudi Arabia,
the threat condition was raised for installations
and FAST Marines responded. Based upon site
surveys at each location, the Task Force determined
that tactics and techniques for protecting entry onto
installations varied widely, even among those installations
in the same Threat Condition. At Eskan Village, Riyadh,
service members entering the base went through two
checkpoints. The first was manned by Saudi forces,
who checked all members, including U.S., host nation,
and Third Country National citizens. The second check
point was manned by U.S. forces, who also checked
all people. This contrasted with Khobar Towers, where
all base entry points were manned by both Saudi and
U.S. forces. At Camp Doha, Kuwait, an initial checkpoint
several kilometers from the base was manned by both
Kuwaiti and U.S. military forces, while the base entry
point was manned by armed contract security guards.
At Ali Al-Salem Air Base, Kuwait, Bangladeshi military
forces, contracted by the government of Kuwait, provided
entry control. At the Sahara Residence, a billeting
facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, entry
was controlled by unarmed contract security guards,
while at Manai Plaza in Bahrain, another billeting
complex, entry was controlled by Marines from the
U.S. Marine Corps Fleet Antiterrorist Security Team
(FAST) and Bahrainian special forces troops. Entry
control at the Administrative Support Unit Bahrain
was provided by U.S. Navy and Bahrainian forces, with
heavy weapons support from the Marine Fleet Antiterrorist
FAST Company has proven itself in
more than 70 special security missions and has been
in the following operations: Desert Shield/Desert
Storm, Sharp Edge (Liberia,) Just Cause (Panama,)
Promote Liberty (Panama) and Safe Return in Haiti.
SHARP EDGE in Jan 1991, USMC Fleet Antiterrorist
Security Team (FAST) relieved the Marine Amphibious
Readiness Group at U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia
after the conclusion of VIGILANT WARRIOR, USCENTCOM
found itself involved once again in Somalia, this
time to cover the withdrawal of UNOSOM II in accordance
with a United Nations decision to pull its forces
out of that troubled country. After the withdrawal
of US forces on 25 March 1994, the United States
maintained a liaison office in Mogadishu in an
attempt to further the process of political reconciliation
in Somalia. Security for this office was provided
by a Fleet Antiterrorist Support Team (FAST) platoon
from the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion.
As conditions in Mogadishu deteriorated, the liaison
office relocated to Nairobi and the FAST platoon
redeployed to Mombasa, Kenya, on 15 September
1994, with the latter redeploying to home station
three days later. President Clinton announced
his decision late in 1994 that US forces would
assist in the withdrawal of UNOSOM forces from
Platoons also provided security support for the
transfer of Cuban migrants from Panama holding
areas to Guantanamo Bay during Operation SAFE
PASSAGE from January to February 1995.
Operation FAIRWINDS in late 1996, FAST
Platoons provided security for NMCB and USAF Engineer
unit, work site, camp site, and convoys in Haiti.
A Marine's Life In The F.A.S.T. Lane
By C. Mark Brinkley
Warning: Marines interested in kicking down doors,
shooting anything that moves and taking no prisoners
should not join FAST platoons.
They don't do that here.
"We are a specialty team, in that we do one thing
and we do it well," said Capt. Andrew Petrucci, physical
security officer for Marine Corps Security Forces
Battalion in Norfolk, Va. "People hear 'specialty
team' and then instantly associate it with Chuck Norris
That's a bad characterization of the Marine Corps'
high-speed, high-profile Fleet Antiterrorism Security
"We're not door-kickers by any stretch of the imagination,"
Petrucci said. "We emphasize 'deter, detect and defend'
against terrorist attacks."
That means that FAST teams usually deploy quickly
to a high-threat region to enhance the security already
there, such as the Marine Security Guard force at
an overseas embassy.
Or, it could mean flying to Alaska to guard a nuclear
submarine against sabotage, as was the case in March,
when FAST Marines participated in Exercise Northern
That may sound like the mission statement for a run-of-the-mill
security force, but FAST puts a different twist on
Most Marines in the Corps' nine security force companies
and two FAST companies are junior Marines locked into
a two-year security forces contract. They each begin
with infantry training, and are later sent to the
basic security guard course in Chesapeake, Va.
Those selected for security force duty will deploy
to their new homes and spend their time guarding a
specific base or cache of weapons.
But those selected for FAST platoons -- and Marine
officials say it really is the luck of the draw --
receive even more security guard training at the company
and platoon levels, and spend their time guarding
anything they are told to look after.
Because they are spread across the globe, FAST Marines
can be sent anywhere in the world within 24 hours.
The length of their stay is determined by the mission,
Marine officials said, but the average FAST Marine
spent about 150 days on the road in 1998.
"If you like to deploy and go out with real bullets,
this is the job for you," Petrucci said.
But don't go expecting to go on offense.
FAST officials are quick to point out that their anti-terrorism
job doesn't involve counter-terrorism missions --
like crashing through skylights, Delta Force-style,
to rescue hostages and kill terrorists -- but instead
includes preventing such incidents.
"We are defensive in nature," Petrucci said. "Site
security is our bread and butter."
Occasionally, as with the embassy bombings in Africa
last year, FAST Marines are asked to help get a bad
situation back under control.
The 1998 bombings left sensitive documents literally
blown into the street, available for the taking of
"You've only got so many Marine Security Guards there,"
said one FAST Marine. "At a time like that, they can't
While the companies advertise little in the way of
offense, about a dozen Marines from each platoon are
typically trained in close-quarters combat, Marine
But putting those skills to use often means the defensive
mission has failed.
"We're like a mobile guard force," the FAST Marine
said. "We go to a high-threat area and set up security,
but we have to be ready for all types of situations.
You never know what's going to happen out there."
FAST platoon commanders are usually captains from
combat-arms fields, Petrucci said, and there is rarely
a shortage of volunteers asking the monitors for the
Each platoon also has a staff non-commissioned officer,
three or four sergeants and three or four corporals,
all of whom usually come from the Fleet Marine Force.
Women may be assigned to Marine Corps Security Forces
Battalion, but because they are excluded from most
combat-arms MOSs, none serve in the FAST platoons.
All told, about 500 enlisted Marines and 20 officers
are divided into 11 platoons -- six at 1st FAST Company
in Norfolk and five at 2nd FAST Company in Yorktown,
The FAST Deployment Program, very similar to the Unit
Deployment Program that rotates Fleet Marine Force
units to Okinawa Japan, keeps three platoons deployed
to Bahrain, Italy and Japan.
Every six months, a platoon from 2nd FAST will relieve
a platoon from 1st FAST -- or vice versa -- at each
of the three locations.
Each deployed platoon supports the fleet commander,
a Navy admiral, in that area.
Additionally, one platoon at each U.S. location is
always on alert, Marine officials said, for the possibility
of being called to action by the commander in chief
of U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
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