Getting Them to the Fight

How the HRT Mobility Team Moves the FBI’s Elite Tactical Forces

When the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) is called in to support an operation, they don’t get to choose where they go or what conditions they encounter.

Critical incidents don’t wait for the light of day, for the snow to let up, or for the seas to settle.

To ensure the FBI’s elite team of special agents can get wherever they need to be to do their job, HRT has a mobility team embedded within its ranks.

HRT was created in 1983 to support FBI field offices and public safety partners in high-risk arrests and tactical operations, including responding to terrorist attacks and hostage situations.

In 2006, HRT added a dedicated mobility team, which provided the team with greater flexibility and range.

Through the mobility operators, HRT now has ready access to open water craft and high-speed river boats. They can also turn to horses, trucks, and off-road vehicles, including snowmobiles, depending on the demands of the operation.

When the helicopters are needed, a member of the mobility team acts as the tactical air officer and provides critical assistance to the pilots through fast rope or hoisting operations.

“We are trained to go into austere environments, whether that is by our off-road vehicles or helicopter insertions,” said a mobility team leader. “With our offshore capabilities, we are able to head out into the ocean and deliver our operators in rough sea conditions.”

The mobility team researches the best routes and waterways to reach the objective, which can mean navigating changing tides or delivering agents in the middle of night. The team is essential to the safety and success of the mission.

Only current FBI agents with at least three years of experience in the field are eligible to apply to the mobility team. If an agent is selected, he or she then enters an intense 10-month new operator training program.

A strong mobility operator needs to be flexible, physically fit, mechanically competent, and able to adjust to sea and weather conditions and mission requirements.

The job is challenging, always changing, and, at times, grueling.

Many of the team’s training exercises lead them out into the open ocean, where pushing through six-foot swells generates a constant pounding for those on the boat and idling in rough seas can make for a nausea-inducing ride.

But that training is necessary. That training is what sets the team apart.

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