Hostage Rescue Team (FBI)

Hostage Rescue Team (FBI)

The Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) is the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation's elite Special Operations tactical and counterterrorism SWAT Team. [ The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Efforts to Protect the Nation's Seaports] ] The HRT is trained to rescue U.S. citizens or others who are held by a hostile force, either terrorist or criminal.

The Hostage Rescue Team was founded in 1982 by Danny Coulson [citeweb
title=Danny Coulson speaks for International Speakers Bureau
quote=He rose through the ranks of the FBI and in 1982 he was assigned to create the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), the FBI's elite counter-terrorism unit.
] [citeweb
url= No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home: Danny O Coulson, Elaine Shannon: Books
quote=Those FBI folks keep spilling their secrets. Here, the founder of the agency's Hostage Rescue Team talks about cases spanning his 30-year career.
] [citeweb
title=Danny Coulson on The Paula Gordon Show
quote=Danny Coulson, founder and first commander of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team
] in preparation for the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles, as a response to possible terrorist actions such as occurred at the Munich Games [] .

The HRT became part of the Critical Incident Response Group upon its formation in 1994 as a result of the need to consolidate the assets necessary to respond to a critical incident in one group. Today it is part of the Tactical Support Branch of the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG), and is based at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. [] Its purpose was, and still is, to serve as a domestic counter-terrorism unit in offering a tactical resolution option in hostage and high-risk law enforcement situations. It originally comprised 50 operators, and this number has increased since to over 90 full-time operators. The HRT commonly functions as a national SWAT team in highly sensitive or dangerous situations.


"Servare Vitas" - "To Save Lives"


The HRT's equipment and tactics are more advanced than any of the FBI's 56 field office SWAT teams or the 14 'enhanced' SWAT teams. The HRT's capabilities are more advanced because its operators (assault and sniper teams) serve full-time and train daily. HRT operators are assigned to one of three teams, one of which is a designated maritime team. The three teams rotate through three 60-day cycles: training, operations, and support. During the training cycle, the team refreshes its skills and takes part in exercises. During the operations cycle, the team is available for deployment. During the support cycle, the team works on special projects and maintains the HRT's equipment.

One of the chief capabilities that distinguishes the HRT from the FBI's SWAT teams is its ability to fast rope, a technique where the assault team descends a thick rope from the side of a helicopter. HRT also possess advanced "breaching" capabilities, unlike the Field Office SWAT teams.


Some of the HRT's roles include:

*Hostage rescue
*Apprehending barricaded subjects
*Helicopter operations
*High-risk raids, searches, arrests, and warrants
*Mobile assaults
*Manhunt and rural operations
*Maritime operations
*Cold/extreme weather operations
*Dignitary protection
*Force protection for FBI personnel overseas
*Assistance to military special missions

Additionally, the HRT has performed traditional law enforcement roles during hurricane relief operations, tactical surveys, and on occasion, pre-positions in support of special events such as the Olympic Games, presidential inaugurations, and political conventions [] .

The HRT is known to train with units such as the Army's Combat Applications Group (otherwise known as 1-st SFOD-D Delta Force), France's GIGN, Britain's SAS, Australian SAS, Germany's GSG 9 and other international units [] .

The operators of the HRT are selected on a strictly volunteer basis after the successful completion of an extremely rigorous and demanding two week selection tryout. In order to apply for HRT selection the candidate must be a currently serving FBI Special Agent with a minimum three years field experience [] . After a four-month initial training period, they are headquartered at the FBI Academy, Quantico. In 2003, members of the HRT were deployed on more than 200 missions, including to Afghanistan and Iraq.


Since its inception, the HRT, or components of it, have been involved in many of the FBI's high profile cases, executing numerous operations involving domestic militant groups, terrorists, 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. The HRT was a participant in the infamous incidents at Ruby Ridge and Waco, as well as at the hostage rescue operations of prison guards at Talladega, Alabama, and St. Martinville, Louisiana. Both of these incidents led to changes on how and when the HRT is used by the FBI.

See also

*FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams
*Critical Incident Response Group
* [ Official FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) page]
* [ SpecWarNet FBI HRT information page.]
*Manhunt (law enforcement)
*Manhunt (Military)

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

Notes and References

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