Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team
The USMC's Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams (FAST), provide the both US Navy and Marine Corps with a dedicated force protection and anti-terrorist unit.
The late 70's and early 80's were a high water mark for US military counter/anti-terrorist efforts. A series of deadly attacks directed at Americans highlighted the requirement for security forces capable of countering terrorist threats against military units. The President issued a directive ordering US security agencies and all branches of the military to enhance their capabilities in this field.
In compliance with this directive, the USMC conducted an thorough evaluation of its security forces during the mid-eighties. Upon the studies completion, the Corps came to the conclusion that its current security procedures were inadequate to handle the security threats being posed against it. The Corps decided to form a new unit of highly trained Marines dedicated to defending both US Navy and Marine Corps assets from terrorist attack. The new unit was designated as the Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team, or FAST.
Established in 1987, FAST Companies are equipped to perform security missions as directed by the Chief of Naval Operations. FAST Company Marines augment installation security when a threat condition is elevated beyond the ability of resident and auxiliary security forces. They are not designed to provide a permanent security force for the installation.
The Marine Corps uses FAST Companies to protect forces when a threat level requires it. Each company is well grounded in basic infantry skills.
FAST Companies are primarily designed to conduct defensive combat operations, military security operations, and rear area security operations. They also can be tailored for specific tasks from the Chief of Naval Operations. They also ensure nuclear material on submarines is not compromised when the vessels are docked.
In 1989 elements of 1st FAST were deployed to Rodman Naval Station, Panama as a response to a number of incursions by unknown intruders *( the intruders were believed to be members of a Cuban special operations unit who were attempting to sabotage US POL stockpiles located on the base )*. 1 FAST immediately commenced operations, conducting security patrols around the base perimeter, and establishing ambush positions along known avenues of approach. The FAST marines were successful in deterring further incursions, and on a number of occasions they took intruders, attempting to gain entry to the base, under fire.
On December 21, 1989 the US launched Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama. US forces were to secure the country and remove Panamanian military strongman, and the countries defacto leader, from power. Although primarily a US Army, and special operation forces mission, a select number of USMC units were to participate. One of the USMC units selected for the operation was 1st FAST Co.
1st FAST had been operating in Panama for some time providing security at US naval installations; conducting training exercises; and gearing up for any possible terrorist attack directed at USMC or USN facilities in Panama. 1st FAST along with a detachment form the 2nd Light Armored Infantry (LAI) Battalion, another new USMC unit, were to conduct several joint combat missions together. The 2nd LAI det. provided speed, armored protection, and heavy firepower, while 1 FAST provided CQB skills necessary for operating in the tight confines of an urban environment.
During Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield FAST Marines provided additional security to US naval installations in Bahrain.
In January 1991, The US Navy and Marines conducted Operation Sharp Edge, the noncombatant evacuation operation of US and foreign nationals from Liberia. FAST was deployed to relieve the Marine Amphibious Readiness Group that was providing security at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia.
Shortly after the conclusion of Vigilant Warrior, USCENTCOM found itself involved once again in Somalia, this time to cover the withdrawal of UNOSOM II in accordance with a United Nations decision to pull its forces out of that war ravaged country. After the withdrawal of US forces on 25 March 1994, the United States maintained a liaison office in Mogadishu in an attempt to further the process of political reconciliation in Somalia. Security for this office was provided by a Fleet Anti terrorist Security Team (FAST) platoon. As conditions in Mogadishu deteriorated, the liaison office relocated to Nairobi and the FAST platoon redeployed to Mombasa, Kenya, on 15 September 1994, with FAST redeploying to home station three days later.
FAST Platoons also provided security support for the transfer of Cuban migrants from Panama holding areas to Guantanamo Bay during Operation Safe Passage from January to February 1995.
Following the 1996 bombing of a UASF barracks in Saudi Arabia, FAST Marines responded. Elements of FAST Company arrived on the scene and secured several buildings within 10 hours.
During Operation Fairwinds in late 1996, FAST Platoons provided security for Navy Sea Bees and USAF Civil Engineers, work sites, camp sites, and convoys in Haiti.
There are currently two FAST companies, and training unit. 1st FAST Co. is located on Naval Operations Base (NOB), Norfolk, Virginia, and 2nd FAST Co. which is located at Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown, Virginia. Both units operate under the control of the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion located on Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia, The Security Force Battalion Training Company is located on Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA), Northwest, in Chesapeake, Virginia. Each company includes 321 Marines, task-organized based upon mission:
The USMC has seen fit to equip its FAST units with a wide array of weapons, and equipment to help them accomplish their mission. The FAST units arsenal is known to include M-16A2 rifles (some rifles have been fitted with sniper scopes for the units designated marksmen), M-16A2/M-203 40mm grenade launchers, Berretta M-9 9mm pistols (some with attached tactical lights), HK MP-5 9mm SMGs, Colt 9mm SMGs, Remington 870 shotguns, M-249 5.56mm Squad Automatic Weapons (SAWs), M-60 7.62mm GPMGs, Browning .50 Cal. HMGs, MK-19 40mm HMGs ( automatic grenade launchers), 60mm mortars, AT-4 88mm, and SMAW Anti -tank rockets.