News: FAST platoon prepares for deployment
Story by Lance Cpl. Samuel Ellis
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. - With armed guards, mounted humvees, and designated marksman, the Urban Training Center aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico on Sept. 25, 2013, looked more like an embassy in Africa than a training center in upstate Virginia.
And that’s exactly what it was meant to replicate. Marines from the A4 platoon of the Fleet Anti- Terrorism Security Team from Norfolk, Va., spent 5 days aboard the facility conducting final training exercises in preparation for a seven-month deployment.
“Quantico is one of the training facilities we use,” said 1st Lt. Steven Richardson, assistant regimental training officer. “We try to keep it varied between different sites. It gives the Marines a new perspective and teaches them to go into a site they haven’t seen and set up security.”
Marines who choose to serve in a FAST platoon, get to serve in a unique way.
“There isn’t really an organization that does what we do,” said Richardson. When the country needs a site security reinforcement type element, they can call up and say ‘hey, things have gone bad we need a FAST Company to assist.’”
FAST units are Marines who deploy to strategic positions around the world with the goal of protecting national interests. One of their purposes is to provide quick-response support to U.S. embassies. The training aboard Quantico simulated a Tunisia embassy mission.
“The Marines came in here not knowing how long the process was going to be, how long we were going to be here or any training aspect,” said Richardson. “They came here, saw the embassy, and set up security just like they would in an overseas situation. We have an opposition force and local guard force, to simulate what they would really go through.”
Many Marines understand the benefit of the training they received at the MOUT site, here.
“Everything we do in FAST has a consequence that could come back on the platoon, the Marine Corps and the United States,” Lance Cpl. Frederick Zuberer, seven months with the platoon. “You have to make good judgments and not let your emotions rule your decisions.”
Capt. John Davis, platoon commander for A4, summed up the week.
“This has been the most realistic training we have had thus far in our work-up,” said Davis. “It gives us a way to fine tune and make our standard operating procedures better so when we are going in real time at 100 percent, there is no hiccups. This is the time to make mistakes, so we can identify those and refine and rehearse before we go overseas.”