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Counterterrorism Training

Counterterrorism Training
FBI Portland Joins Regional Drill 


Over a period of three days in late May, the FBI—along with local and state law enforcement agencies, fire departments, health departments, and others—took part in a regional counterterrorism drill. The training, code-named PACESETTER, included different agencies in four separate counties practicing their responses to a simulated bio-terrorism event. Under the scenario, the terrorists had exposed thousands of residents to anthrax at public venues.

The FBI’s role in such an incident is to lead the criminal investigation, identifying who is responsible and bringing them to justice. Embedded in this counterterrorism exercise were some specific training objectives for FBI personnel, including the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, the Evidence Response Team (ERT), and the criminal investigators.

FBI Portland’s SWAT team is specially trained to conduct maritime tactical operations. As such, SWAT team members regularly train aboard ships to ensure that all members are familiar with the unique challenges presented when conducting tactical operations on the water. They must be trained in specialized boarding techniques, breaching techniques, navigating a complicated maze of passageways, and negotiating unfamiliar obstacles.

In addition to the SWAT team’s activities during the exercise, the division’s ERT toured the ship as well, learning about special challenges they may face as they work to identify and recover forensic material during a maritime incident. Back on land, agents from the division’s domestic terrorism squad teamed up with health officials to do criminal epidemiological (“crime epi”) interviews as they attempted to learn more about the exposure incidents and the “victims” in the scenario.

Dozens of FBI personnel took part in the PACESETTER drill over the three-day exercise, joining hundreds of others from throughout the region as we worked together to test how our coordinated response can help ensure a swift end to any future terrorism incident.