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April 4, 2014

Breaking, banging — Fort Huachuca Special Reaction Team trains in housing

Fort Huachuca Special Reaction Team members practice the break-and-rake technique used to gain entry into a structure, during a rare training event conducted in housing that is scheduled to be demolished, on Mott Circle, March 13.

Carrying their protective gear, weapons and other necessary equipment, the Fort Huachuca Special Reaction Team, or SRT, barreled their way through doors, windows and gates of a housing structure waiting to be demolished on Mott Circle, during their recent training.

A SRT is a specialized team or element within military law enforcement units that responds to high-risk situations within a military installation and training in this type of environment is a rare opportunity for them.

“We don’t have the training facilities set up to do the manual breaching that the team was able to accomplish — the window breaking, the deploying of flash bangs or destruction devices. That’s kind of why this was a ‘good news’ concept for us,” said Detective Bill Woodman, who is the SRT team lead. “This sort of training only comes around every year or two.”

Fort Huachuca Special Reaction Team personnel mount a ballistic armored response vehicle prior to raiding a house as part of a unique training exercise on Mott Circle, March 13.

Because the house was scheduled to be demolished, SRT members were able to break windows, knock down doors, and cause damage with little restriction, in order to quickly gain entry.

“In this house, we didn’t have any of those limitations,” Woodman explained. “We were able to go up to the front door, we were able to barricade, or lock, the front door, and we were able to utilize the tools we have to gain entry. This shows each of the team members what its like to actually hit a door.”

The 10-hour training covered many SRT scenarios and tactics such as vehicle approaches, breeching or forcefully entering a structure, room clearing, and breaking and clearing a window for entrance.

Each month SRT puts in 20 hours of training, broken down into two 10-hour days. “We usually do training comparable to this. The only thing that we won’t do is physically destroy the building in order to gain entry to the rooms, or bust the windows, or throw the flash bangs,” said Woodman.

Members of the Fort Huachuca Special Reaction Team break through a door during a barricaded suspect training scenario using a battering ram and ballistic shield, March 13, in post housing scheduled to be demolished. The opportunity to train in a structure that will be torn down allows the team to train aggressively without restraints of damage control.

Staff Sgt. George Collier, SRT officer in charge, explained that training usually takes place in industrial type buildings, which are “typically built in more of a straight line.”

“They found quickly that, in these houses, once you are in there, there are so many ways to go and the hallways can clog up rather quickly when you have nine guys with their gear on walking around,” he said.

The 16 members who participated included Fort Huachuca medics, firefighters, Civilian Department of Army police officers and military police officers. Each participant rotated through the different positions in order to learn different roles of the team.

Following the training event, the team provided very positive feedback according to Woodman. “They thought it was excellent … that it was the best they have ever had. They got to put everything they were taught in school and everything that we have to simulate together,” Woodman said. “That’s why this was so special.”




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