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    Tip of the Spear: Marines of FAST Company

    FASTEUR Marines Participate in Judicious Activation 2019 at U.S. Embassy Cotonou

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Gaither | 190513-N-OX430-111 COTONOU, BENIN (May 13, 2019) Lance Cpl. Edwin Perez Jr., assigned...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Gaither 

    AFN Rota

    ROTA, Spain -- The term tip of the spear refers to a combat force at the front lines, usually in harm’s way, used to puncture the enemy’s initial line of defense. It’s also a term that has often been associated with the United States Marine Corps throughout its nearly 244 year history.
    The Marines of Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security (FAST) Company can accurately be referred to as the tip of a different kind of spear. With State and Defense Department assets maintaining a high visibility and reach that spans the globe, FAST Company’s skill set stands out amongst a crowded field of different embassy security entities.
    Established in 1987, the mission of FAST Companies is to provide rapid-response, expeditionary anti-terrorism security operations in support of vital naval and national assets. They have special skills in marksmanship, surveillance detection, compound security and clearance, and emergency medical response. It’s a skill set FAST Marines must utilize and share when they’re called upon to assist their security counterparts in the State Department.
    “There’s high expectations that need to be met,” said Captain Mark Harvey, FAST Company platoon commander for 2nd platoon. “The reality is that they could be in an extremely dynamic where Marines are standing post in front of, or on the roof, of an embassy in a foreign country with a potential decision, deciphering whether to use lethal or non-lethal force. Those decisions have world-wide strategic implications and the level of maturity we ask of our guys is extremely high.”
    Homeported in Virginia, FAST Companies perform a six-month pre-deployment training plan, half that of the conventional infantry battalion, before conducting a six-month deployment to one of the strategically located overseas commands in Bahrain, Yokosuka, Japan, and Rota, Spain.
    “FAST has opened a lot of windows for Marines coming in, providing those deployment experiences the fleet needs,” said Corporal Antonio Boyd, a team leader within 2nd platoon. “It’s been amazing working in Rota with this command. You get to see a lot of things that typical Marines in fleet don’t get to see.”
    The nature of FAST’s mission requires its platoons to maintain an alert status throughout its deployment to Naval Station Rota, an ideal location for FAST Company to react to any crisis across Europe and Africa. As a pre-incident response force, FAST platoons in Rota are expected to be ready to leave, with all necessary personnel and gear, and prepared to reinforce an embassy in need within six hours of receiving that initial call.
    To meet that criteria, the FAST Marines of 2nd platoon train early and often each day in order to sustain their physical fitness and marksmanship skills. After their morning physical training, their days consist of classes covering everything from weapons maintenance and operation, to analyzing multiple orders and reviewing warfighting publications. They do hikes and practice combat patrols throughout the base, testing their ability to respond quickly in a firefight. They’ll also go to the range to keep their marksmanship skills sharp.
    “FAST isn’t all glory. There’s a lot of time where you keep honing your craft, honing your skills, and even when it feels repetitive, it’ll better shape you for that time when FAST is needed,” said Boyd. “Train hard, stay motivated and FAST will treat you amazing.”
    However, all that training would be for nothing if those Marines can’t execute their primary mission of rapid-response, security operations to embassies in a potential emergency. In order to simulate their crisis response capabilities, FAST platoons conduct embassy engagement exercises, simulating each step from getting the initial call, to gathering the necessary gear and personnel, flying to the location in need, and immediately working in conjunction with the State Department representatives present upon arrival to fortify and ensure that embassy’s safety.
    This year, different FAST platoons have performed embassy engagement exercises in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Spain, Benin, and Sierra Leone.
    “They are phenomenal exercises for us,” said Harvey. “You are moving all the gear, equipment, and people to the embassy, reinforcing and working with them. It’s a great proof of concept, short of there being an actual threat to the embassy.”
    Exercises like these provide FAST Marines the opportunity to assess their interoperability with embassy security forces and build relationships with the State Department. FAST Marines share their expertise in marksmanship, self-defense, counter surveillance, crowd control, and emergency medical response.
    The cross-promotion of such skills doesn’t just positively affect the embassy’s immediate security force but all facets of embassy safety, including its civilian staff, the local guard force, and foreign militaries as well. Each engagement is a chance to assist the Regional Security Officers at each embassy in the development and validation of their emergency action plans and bolster their security posture even after the FAST Marines return to Rota.
    Historically, FAST Company has been on the forefront of emergency response worldwide since its inception, providing security to areas like Haiti, Kenya, Liberia, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Yemen.
    Most recently, FAST Marines deployed to Rota responded to the U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Within 24 hours of their arrival to the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, they were able to reestablish security to help resume diplomatic operations in the region. FAST Company Europe was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation for their actions in 2014.
    As the United States Marine Corps prepares to celebrate its 244th birthday November 10th, and the Marines of 2nd platoon prepare to return home after a successful deployment, current and future FAST platoons deployed to Naval Station Rota will carry on the torch of responsibility. FAST Company Europe will continue to maintain their alert status, ready to respond to any crisis at a moment’s notice in the defense of American interests and assets.



    Date Taken: 11.08.2019
    Date Posted: 11.08.2019 05:09
    Story ID: 351068
    Location: ROTA, ES 

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