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Hometown: Fort Bragg , NC, US

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SWAT swapping

SWAT swapping

Courtesy Story

SWAT swapping SALEMBURG, N.C. - In the distance, he hears a man shout, “Officer down!” Immediately, it triggers him into action. His heart pumps faster, adrenaline kicks in and muscle memory takes over as he returns fire and runs to the officer’s aid. Once the commotion is all over, an instructor gives him feedback on his ability to complete all the necessary requirements with skill, precision and timeliness.

The annual North Carolina Tactical Officers Association SWAT Competition, held at the North Carolina Justice Academy in Salemburg, North Carolina, tests teams on their tactical proficiency and mental toughness over a four day period.

“The idea was to bring SWAT teams across the state to compete against each other for the top spot,” said Blair Rockwell, officer-in-charge of the Fort Bragg Special Reaction Team, 16th Military Police Brigade, the only team with military members at the competition. “It was an opportunity to foster the fellowship as well as exchange of tactics and ideas amongst the teams.”

The SRT, adopted in 1976, is a specialized law enforcement team designed to decisively engage any high risk incidents with discipline and precision on military installations. This year, March 30 – April 2, the SRT competed for their fourth time against 12 other teams and took second place for the third year in a row.

Competitions, like these and other training forums afford the police officers a chance to build good relationships with one another and develop interoperability they normally would not have on national and international levels. Cpl. Lewis Sargeant, 156th Provost Company of the Royal Military Police, British Army, spent an afternoon with his comrades watching the SWAT competition to compare similarities and differences in techniques, so that they might be able to take lessons learned and incorporate them into their own training programs.

“I think it’s very beneficial when we do train together with other countries, because if we were in the future to go on operations together, then it would work more fluently,” said Sargeant.

On several occasions, SRT has hosted training for SWAT teams, using resources and facilities on Fort Bragg that the civilian teams would not have access to otherwise. The teams train together, observe and exchange tactics to improve their skills.

“We love our military teams, what they bring. A lot of times, they have the latest and greatest equipment they can show us,” said Scott Ross, Wake County Deputy and president of the North Carolina Tactical Officer’s Association. “We love them, and we're always proud to have them as part of our association.”

One of the courses at the SWAT competition was dedicated to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Duskin, 3rd Special Forces Group, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012. Those at the event who knew Duskin took the time to swap stories about him and the camaraderie that members of elite teams share.

“We’re a brotherhood,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Wolf, SRT noncommissioned officer-in-charge, as he described what he liked most about SRT. “We are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, so we don’t train for if it happens. We train for when it happens. The SRT is not a first responder. We are the last responder.”

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