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FAST Marines train for contingencies in Egypt

By Capt. Monica Witt´é× Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade

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Around the globe, members of the Department of State serve Americans working and living abroad, providing critical administrative and emergency capabilities in nearly 300 host nations. While they are committed to serving U.S. citizens, U.S. Marines are committed to serving those members of the U.S. Embassies abroad. Sustained readiness is the name-of-the-game for Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team – Central Command, who stand ready to protect U.S. interests and consulates in the Middle East at a moment’s notice.

U.S. Marines with Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team - Central Command conduct a simulated embassy reinforcement while participating in a combat rehearsal on urban terrain with Egyptian Special Operations Forces during Exercise Bright Star, Sept. 18, 2018. The FASTCENT Marines sharpened practical application skills during Bright Star prior to conducting interoperability trials with the Regional Safety staff at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. (Courtesy Photo/Released)
U.S. Marines with Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team - Central Command conduct a simulated embassy reinforcement while participating in a combat rehearsal on urban terrain with Egyptian Special Operations Forces during Exercise Bright Star, Sept. 18, 2018. The FASTCENT Marines sharpened practical application skills during Bright Star prior to conducting interoperability trials with the Regional Safety staff at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. (Courtesy Photo/Released)
U.S. Marines with Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team - Central Command conduct a simulated embassy reinforcement while participating in a combat rehearsal on urban terrain with Egyptian Special Operations Forces during Exercise Bright Star, Sept. 18, 2018. The FASTCENT Marines sharpened practical application skills during Bright Star prior to conducting interoperability trials with the Regional Safety staff at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. (Courtesy Photo/Released)
FAST Marines train for contingencies in Egypt
U.S. Marines with Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team - Central Command conduct a simulated embassy reinforcement while participating in a combat rehearsal on urban terrain with Egyptian Special Operations Forces during Exercise Bright Star, Sept. 18, 2018. The FASTCENT Marines sharpened practical application skills during Bright Star prior to conducting interoperability trials with the Regional Safety staff at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. (Courtesy Photo/Released)
In order to sustain operational readiness, FASTCENT Marines conducted an embassy engagement exercise with the Regional Security Office staff at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Sept. 27, 2018.

The exercise provided an opportunity to rehearse procedures and increase interoperability with the RSO staff and fellow Marines assigned to the Marine Security Guard Detachment.

While FAST brings a wide range of defensive capabilities to the fight, being prepared to employ them in concert with the Marines and staff with whom they will work if called upon is crucial.

“Increasing interoperability, communication, and sharing tactics and practices between all elements responsible for protecting U.S. citizens and interests abroad creates a more formidable force should our services be required,” said Mark Harvey, the commander of 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, FASTCENT.

The mission of the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, which places approximately 1,000 Marines at nearly 200 diplomatic consulates around the world, is to protect and prevent the compromise of national assets, sensitive information, and equipment. In the event of a crisis, FASTCENT stands by in Bahrain to reinforce MSG security efforts at a moment’s notice.

During the training, the elements learned their counterparts’ tactics, techniques, and procedures and rehearsed integrating them during practical application.

“The training we did with the FASTCENT platoon was extremely useful because it provided an opportunity for the Marines assigned to Marine Security Guard Detachment - Cairo and those assigned to FAST to interact for the first time,” said Benjamin Hammond, the Embassy’s Assistant Regional Security Officer. “We refined combined security plans, and were able to gain a better understanding requirements for an Embassy Reinforcement Operation.”

FASTCENT’s expertise in fixed-site reinforcement is drawn from the Marines’ specialized training and the munitions that the force brings to the fight, including heavy and medium machine guns, engineering capabilities, and a multitude of non-lethal riot-control equipment.

The Embassy rehearsals followed a recent rehearsal during Bright Star 2018, a major exercise lead by Egypt and U.S. Central Command, during which FASTCENT partnered with Egyptian armed forces and Special Operations Forces to conduct defensive operations at an urban terrain site, closely resembling that of an Embassy compound. The rigorous training proved successful during the Cairo embassy rehearsal.

“We learned many lessons that will enable us to execute a real world mission in a more effective and efficient manner, which could prove critical when considering the circumstances that would require such a mission,” Hammond said.

Having strengthened the “muscle memory” of their skillsets and fortified multiple partnerships, the FASTCENT Marines returned to Bahrain ready to be demonstrate their expertise should the time come.

For more information about FASTCENT contact Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade Public Affairs Officer Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sandra Arnold at sandra.arnold@me.usmc.mil or Marine Capt. Monica Witt at monica.witt@me.usmc.mil.