“We were looking for anything that looks like a real town or city, where we can do a full scenario – drive to a location and serve a warrant,” said a team leader with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Special Response Teams.
He found his ideal location at the Army’s National Training Center.
The team leader explained that while all United States DHSI special agents work on cases involving “gangs to narcotics to fraud, importation of illegal goods,” some are also members of Special Response Teams who deal with persons or organizations known to be highly violent.
From Sept. 15-21, about 40 HSI Special Response Team members from Los Angeles and Arizona conducted day and night training at two NTC villages to fulfill their required 40-hour annual training. The training included scenarios at NTC’s Junction City and Sacon Village, where agents effected the arrest of two to three gang members seeking drugs and guns. Other scenarios included using a ballistic shield to approach an armed suspect, and using weapons to fire live bullets and ‘simunitons’ – similar to paint balls. In another scenario, Special Response Team agents assaulting a building were reinforced with agents disembarking a Customs and Border Patrol helicopter.
“It was perfect for training,” the team leader said. “We had an area to store our tactical vehicle on base. We could bring in our helo, and we could conduct live fire.
“Everyone was extremely helpful,” the team leader continued. “Especially Victor Mazari of NTC Operations, and Laura Pritt and everyone at range operations. We would talk to them every day. They were extremely helpful and cooperative. The Landmark Inn staff was also extremely helpful.”
Pritt, range operations manager with Pulau Corporation, said that NTC provided them with safety and procedural briefings and scenario supplies, including breaching doors and targeting materials.
“While they were here, the entire team followed the coordinated training plan and NTC protocol to the letter,” Pritt said. “We were delighted to assist Homeland Security with their request, and an honor to be able to support them in completing their 40-hour training requirements.”
“This was the first time we trained on an Army base,” the team leader said.
He noted that they had previously trained at abandoned buildings at the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.
“We never had training or cooperation like this,” he added. “Everyone was pretty excited about it. We’d like to keep coming out.”