FBI Trains for War-Zone Deployments
Before FBI personnel deploy to combat theaters in Afghanistan and Iraq they get a taste of war in the mountains of Utah.
Voice on radio from advance vehicle: OK, we got two Conex boxes on the left up here. Everybody's eyes are open. Looking good.
Voices inside vehicle: Give me 360 on all sides guys. Everybody looking around … We got nothing ...
Voice on radio from advance vehicle: Mandatory turning right.
Voice inside vehicle: Copy.
Voices inside vehicle: IED right side. This is Vehicle-Two. We're getting hit. RPG in front of us.
[Paintball barrage striking vehicle]
Pre-deployment Program instructor #1: The overall goal for the pre-deployment training is to make sure that our agents are safe and that they are able to operate in a combat theater or non-permissive environment.
The pre-deployment training that the FBI puts on for individuals deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq occurs in Utah. The environment here—the climate, the mountains, the altitude—is very similar to what our agents are going to encounter in Afghanistan, especially.
So the training's only two weeks, it's long enough and it's rigorous enough and the demands that are placed on them both mentally and physically offer a great opportunity for the instructors to evaluate them to see if they can operate in a non-permissive environment. What that means is they're going to be exposed to many different stressors on a daily basis.
Over the two-week period it offers us a good opportunity to put them under stress, to put the same type of stressors on them that they could experience in country—see how they can react to that, and if they are mentally and physically prepared to deploy.
Instructor #2: Right now we're crawling to learn how to do these basic principles of putting on a tourniquet, putting on a splint, checking airways, breathing, circulation, exsanguination, so that as we progress to the final training next week they will have to put all this into practice under a very stressful environment with people possibly shooting at them, limited time scale, dangerous environment.
What we find is that you have your self that you portray under normal circumstances and then you have that hidden self that comes out when you are stressed. We are trying to find who that self is and is that somebody who can handle the stresses of overseas.
[Yelling, chaotic noise, recording of gunfire]
Instructor: 25 seconds … 30 seconds
FBI Special Agent, former student: I think the training gives them probably the closest thing to real-time exposure for what they're going to encounter when they get into Afghanistan or Iraq.
It exposes you to some of the situations and some of the FBI-specific skills that FBI agents are going to provide over there. When you've already mentally rehearsed that, when you've already heard the terminology and some of the military terms you're going to encounter, and basically have an idea of what the daily tempo will be based on your assignment, it's one less thing that you have to learn in a very dynamic environment.
Instructor #3: Flip it over. Look at the map. You're going to have four points to go to. Every point is going to have a wooden stake and it'll have some kind of ribbon at the top of it. Sometimes the ribbon will be just tied around the top of it. Sometimes it'll be long. On that stake the name will be written. There will be a codeword. Don't worry about the codeword. You want the number.
[Snow falling, breeze]
FBI Special Agent, student: I see a stake in front of the bush. It's about 200 meters away. I'm going to start aiming for that point. Unfortunately I've still got some high snow., so I'm just trying to find a good place to travel, make it a little bit easier to maneuver through.
[snow crunching under feet]
Instructor #1: We tell students at the end of the two week course that they're put under stress. A lot of demands are on them during these two weeks. We take a lot of different skill sets that they were taught, from combat medical, land-nav, other skills that are going to be required depending on what their particular assignment is, but we take the classroom portion and put it into practical applications scenario.
Instructor #4: This is the worst-case scenario that you would have to face in Afghanistan. The vehicle is totally inoperable—can't be pushed, can't be pulled—so agents have to evac from one vehicle to the other at the same time while they're taking fire.
Instructor #4: Crawl. Walk. Run. Initially the crawl phase was the classroom. Anyone out static, learn how to get in and out of the vehicles, and in this phase they basically put together everything they learned in the classroom and through the static displays.
A lot of it's communication. A lot of it's team leaders taking charge and getting out of there as quickly as possible. Time is really, the quicker you do this the better you're going to come out on the other end.
Instructor #2: Everything is based on what's been happening in theater. Every class we seem to tweak it a little bit based on what has happened most recently in the theater of operations so that our training is fresh and realistic.
Instructor #1: It's the greatest experience that any agent can have. To volunteer for that assignment up front is difficult, get over there and endure the hardships that you're going to have to endure, and then to know that you truly have made an impact. You know, all of us become FBI agents because we want to make an impact and we want to help. We want to serve our country.
So this is a great opportunity for people to get experience on the front line of the counter-terrorism mission and to contribute. And you get a great sense of accomplishment at the end of your four months, not only for the hardships you've endured and the personal accomplishments that you make, but knowing that you can contribute to the overall good.
[muddy footsteps, breeze]
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