Pre-Deployment Training, Day 1
Nearly 70 men and women participate in the two-week pre-deployment training
Into the War Theater
Pre-Deployment Training, Day 1
The conference room in our Salt Lake City Field Office was filled with FBI employees who had traveled from around the country to be there. The nearly 70 men and women assembled had a variety of different skills and backgrounds, but they all shared one thing in common—they would soon be deploying to a war zone.
About This Series
This was Day 1 of a special two-week pre-deployment training program created by our International Operations Division for Bureau personnel preparing for assignments in Afghanistan and Iraq. One of the first orders of business was for everyone to stand up, introduce themselves, and explain where they would be going and what job they would be doing there. The responses were testimony to our expanding role in the war theater.
One by one, special agents, intelligence analysts, and other support employees—all of whom had volunteered—described their assignments and their specialties: analysts collecting intelligence on terrorist networks, investigators heading to our task forces on major crimes and corruption, and Evidence Response Team members, polygraph examiners, bomb techs, Human Intelligence officers, biometrics experts, and others who would be involved in counterterrorism work too sensitive to mention.
“The terrorists are planning and plotting,” James McTighe, special agent in charge of our Salt Lake City office, told the group. “And make no mistake: they will continue their concerted efforts to kill our people. That’s why your jobs on the front lines of the war zone—at the tip of the spear—are so critical.”
“You are going to be in a dangerous place,” added Special Agent Pete O., a veteran of multiple overseas deployments and one of the training program’s managers. “But it will also be one of the most satisfying missions you will ever undertake for the Bureau.”
Throughout the day, students received briefings from a variety of instructors who had been to the war zone and could speak from experience. There was no sugar-coating about how difficult and demanding conditions could be.
Afghanistan—about the size of Texas—is not only dangerous because of terrorists and suicide bombers. Mountain ranges rise more than 20,000 feet above sea level while summer temperatures in the desert regularly exceed 110 degrees. And because the country lacks modern amenities, the threat of diseases like tuberculosis and hepatitis can be just as deadly as enemy fire.
Learning to be flexible, to work under stress, and—above all—to stay safe in an unsafe environment would be constant themes during the next two weeks of 10- and 12-hour days.
Instructional components would move from classroom presentations to practice drills to outdoor role-playing scenarios with more stress and complexity progressively added at each level. Some of those scenarios—drawn from real situations—would include simulated al Qaeda and Taliban attacks complete with realistic facsimiles of improvised explosives devices, rocket propelled grenades, and small-arms fire.
|FBI personnel review their actions following a training exercise.|
“Our FBI personnel overseas are going to be working long hours, seven days a week,” said Special Agent Dave S., one of the program’s managers. “This training is only two weeks, but it’s rigorous and demanding—both mentally and physically. We hope our people will never have to contend with the situations they will face in training,” he added, “but we are preparing them in case they do.”
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