This is the FBI's dream team of elite counterterrorism operators - We Are The Mighty
Intel

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, has its own “dream team” of special operators trained to save the lives of hostages and respond to terror attacks.


It’s called the Hostage Rescue Team. With the memory of a terrorist attack at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, and Los Angeles selected to host the games in 1984, U.S. officials realized they had no dedicated counterterrorism force that could respond to such an event.

Out of this planning, HRT was born. While initially trained to respond to hostage situations, the team has evolved to support high-risk arrests, protect dignitaries, and assist the military in foreign war zones.

But before agents can join the team which — not surprisingly — often attracts ex-Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces, they need two years of experience as a field agent. After this, they can volunteer for HRT, but it’s not easy.

First, agents need to go through a two-week selection process at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. They are evaluated by senior HRT personnel on whether they would be able to mesh with the team — not on how good they are as operators.

 

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators
Photo: FBI

At selection, they are tested in physical fitness, shooting, making arrests, teamwork, and how they react during stressful situations.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

On average, less than 33 percent of candidates make it through selection, according to the book “To Be An FBI Special Agent” by Henry Holden.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

Those who make the cut are then assigned to New Operator Training School, which is also at Quantico.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

HRT training is similar to military special operations units, with the caveat that agents also train to arrest suspects whenever possible.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

Over the six month training course at NOTS, agents learn skills such as fast-roping out of helicopters and SCUBA diving.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

But according to the FBI, the skill they focus on that is most critical is close-quarters battle, or CQB. “How quickly we can secure a house with a credible threat inside might mean the difference between a hostage living or dying,” said Special Agent John Piser, in a story on the FBI’s website.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

The HRT has special “shoot houses” where operators can train in the art of clearing rooms, as instructors watch and critique them on catwalks above.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

If they graduate NOTS, operators join their individual teams at HRT. But they still have another year of training in basic assault skills, along with specialty training in communications, emergency medicine, or breaching.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

Some go on to get even more specialized training, like HRT snipers.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

 

Members earn their HRT patch, which bears the Latin motto “Servare Vitas,” which means “to save lives.”

HRT’s numbers are low: Less than 300, according to Business Insider. But that doesn’t make them any less capable. The team can respond to any number of threats within the U.S. in just four hours.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

“As an elite counterterrorism tactical team for law enforcement, the HRT is one of the best — if not the best — in the United States,” said Sean Joyce, deputy director of the FBI and former HRT operator. “They are elite because of their training.”

NOW CHECK OUT: The elite history of the U.S. Navy SEALs

Intel

The Navy’s New Weapon System Is A Laser Pointer On Steroids

The U.S. Navy Research team published a video on Wednesday showing off the capabilities of its new “Laser Weapon System” or LaWS, and it’s terrifying. It shoots a 30 kilowatt blast within 2 nanometers of its target according to Defense One.


Also Read: 7 Jobs That No Longer Exist In The Modern Navy

Simply put, it’s an oversized laser pointer on steroids.

The video starts with a time lapse of the weapon aboard a Navy ship while a boat appears over the horizon. It quickly cuts to an operator housed somewhere within the vessel. He’s standing in front of several screens holding what looks like a glorified X-Box controller. A blast is fired but there’s no bang, no smoke, no projectile, and no tracer, all you see is an explosion.

The video switches to a camera aboard the approaching boat for a close-up of the target. It’s a small stack of shells next to a cut-out of a human. The stack is precisely destroyed without damaging the wooden dummy.

Maybe I’ve seen too many comic book movies, but this is like X-Men’s Cyclops with an invisible laser beam.

Defense One reported that this is the Navy’s answer to drone attacks. Drones are becoming cheaper and more accessible, we’ve had them for years, but now American adversaries have begun to roll out their own versions. The LaWS will hopefully help the Navy keep drones at bay.

According to the Office of Naval Research, this isn’t the final version of the weapon. A more powerful 150-kilowatt version is scheduled for testing in 2016.

Check out the video:

usnavyresearch, YouTube

Intel

Biden signs sweeping new law allowing VA to vaccinate all veterans, spouses

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed into law a sweeping new measure that supercharges the Department of Veterans Affairs‘ ability to vaccinate millions of Americans.

The Save Lives Act will allow the VA to vaccinate all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers and Civilian Health and Medical Program recipients, regardless of their VA eligibility.

Read Next: Veterans, Military Families Could Lead the Way in Making America Civil Again, Groups Say

However, patients enrolled in VA care will get priority. About half of all 18 million living U.S. veterans are enrolled in VA care, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“This new law expands options for where veterans and their families can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, ensuring that every veteran, spouse, and caregiver will have access to the protection they need from VA,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee said in a statement. “This bipartisan bill follows through on our shared goal of getting more shots into the arms of as many veterans as possible.”Advertisement

As of Wednesday, the VA has fully vaccinated more than 1.5 million people, including veterans and employees. Previously, only veterans enrolled in VA could get vaccinated.

The bill’s signing comes during a massive concerted effort from the Biden administration to give vaccine access to as many Americans as possible, with the goal of the country starting to return to relative normalcy by Independence Day.

“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on all American including veterans and their families,” Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Director Pat Murray said in a statement. “The end may be near, but we will not come out of this until everybody possible has vaccinations.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Intel

Here’s How A Combat Wounded Veteran Got His Dream Shot At College Football

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators
Photo: YouTube


Once a leader of soldiers under fire in Afghanistan, Daniel Rodriguez is now a leader on the football field.

He earned a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his heroics in Afghanistan, and his story aired on many national shows and programs. Now Rodriguez is in his second season with the Clemson Tigers, attending on the G.I. Bill since 2012.

Also Read: Here’s What An Army Medic Does In The Critical Minutes After A Soldier Is Wounded

His 2011 recruiting video attracted the attention of Clemson head coach, Dabo Swinney, who allowed him to join the Tigers as a walk-on wide receiver. “Like a lot of people, I was mesmerized by the video, his work ethic, and his drive to chase a dream,” Coach Swinney said in the video.

His dream to play college football started with a pact he made with his squad buddy, Pfc. Kevin Thompson, who also aspired to play. But Thompson was killed in the same fight against the Taliban for which Rodriguez earned his awards. Out of the 38 American troops who fought that day, eight were killed and 22 were injured, including Rodriguez. Rodriguez is fueled by this experience and the promise he made to his buddy.

NOW:This is what happens when you put a sailor in a stock car

OR: This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD

Intel

An Israeli spy claims he ‘had no choice’ but to spy on the United States

In 1987, Jonathan Pollard became the first American convicted of espionage against the United States for a U.S. ally. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years. 

His sentence was lighter than most other convicted spies because of a plea agreement he took to get leniency for him and his wife. Convicted in 1987, he was released in 2015 and was sent to Israel, where he now lives. Once in Israel, he received a hero’s welcome for his spying. 

On Mar. 22, 2021, an Israeli newspaper, the Israel Hayom, published an interview with Pollard where he says the United States was intentionally keeping Israel in the dark in many areas.

“I know I crossed a line, but I had no choice,” he told the newspaper, adding that the threats to Israel were “serious.” He also describes himself as a “soldier” for Israel. 

Pollard was working as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy. He was arrested in 1985 after trying to get asylum in the Israeli embassy in Washington. The Israelis told him he had to go through the embassy’s front door – where the FBI was waiting for him. 

He initially told authorities he was passing secrets to the U.S. ally in the Middle East because he was adamant Israel was not getting a total intelligence picture, and that the United States was “stabbing Israel in the back” with an intelligence embargo.

Rami Barukh as Jonathan Pollard right after the Theater show "The Pollard Trial", performed in the Knesset.
Rami Barukh as Jonathan Pollard right after the Theater show “The Pollard Trial”, performed in the Knesset.

But the facts say something entirely different. Pollard wasn’t just passing along gathered intelligence to the Israelis, he was passing on intelligence about the U.S. military. The Defense Department has never released the full extent of what he sold to Israel, because even the list of his sold secrets is so damaging that it’s also classified Top Secret

Pollard, now 66 years old, blames his Israeli handlers for his capture, claiming they never trained him to be a spy and brushed off his concerns about getting caught. When Pollard was finally captured and tried, the prosecution used security camera footage of Pollard stealing classified documents to win his conviction.

Ron Olive, the FBI agent who apprehended Pollard, said the Israeli spy was on a “spree” of classified document theft from “every intelligence agency in D.C.” Olive believed Pollard should never have been allowed to leave the U.S. and his fear that Pollard would be hailed as a hero came true.

“The problem with the Israelis,” Olive told the U.S. Naval Institute, “They denied knowing anything about Pollard. They literally lied to two or three presidents that they knew nothing about Pollard.”

Then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger said Pollard gave Israel information that could cause grave damage to U.S. national security. The most damaging information he sold was the Navy’s 10-volume Radio and Signal Intelligence [RASIN] manual, which was “in effect, a complete roadmap to American signal intelligence.”

At his defense trial and even to this day, Pollard claimed it was altruistic support for the Jewish state and an American ally that caused him to pass on U.S. intelligence secrets. But for all his altruistic claims, he was still paid $25,000, along with a near $6,000 monthly stipend, along with other gifts of jewelry, hotel stays, and other luxuries. 

The government claimed he also attempted to sell U.S. Navy secrets to South Africa, Argentina, Taiwan, Pakistan, and Iran. They estimate Pollard stole more than a million classified documents to Israel, calling him the “most damaging spy in U.S. history.”

Pollard was paroled in 2015 and spent five years on probation before being allowed to leave the United States for Israel. 

Intel

Donald Trump: ‘I always felt that I was in the military’ by attending a military school

Donald Trump never served a day in the military, but he tells a biographer that he “always felt that I was in the military” with his attendance at a military school in his teenage years, according to excerpts from the forthcoming book obtained by The New York Times.


The book, “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success” by Michael D’Antonio, will be published on Sep. 22. In interviews with the author, Trump reflects on his five years spent at the New York Military Academy as something akin to actually serving in uniform.

“My [Vietnam draft] number was so incredible and it was a very high draft number,” Trump told D’Antonio. “Anyway so I never had to do that, but I felt that I was in the military in the true sense because I dealt with those people.”

Of the academy, which notes on its website that most graduates do not pursue a military career, Trump said he received “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has spoken on military service. In July, he attacked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his record in Vietnam, saying “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Check out the full report at the Times

Intel

The Navy wants to shoot 30 drones out of a cannon

The Navy is pushing harder toward fielding swarms of drones to accomplish missions and guard its ships. In August of last year, the service tested swarms of autonomous boats. Now, they want to take the technology into the air with drones that will fly in a coordinated swarm. To rapidly deploy the drones, the Navy is firing them from cannons.


The crown jewel of the research is the technology to coordinate the drones into a swarm, so the current drones being tested could be switched out for other platforms such as the popular Reaper and Predator drones once the technology matures.

See the video below or read more about the program at Defense One 

Intel

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit

When the Air Force tells its pilots to “aim high,” they sure as heck mean it. In a bid to offset its persistent pilot retention woes, the Air Force is reportedly offering its aviators a bonus of up to $420,000 to stay in uniform.

The payments are to be doled out over time or in lump sums, and vary in their value according to different types of aircraft. For example: bomber, fighter, special operations, air mobility, and combat search and rescue fixed-wing pilots can receive an additional $25,000 annually for contracts lasting five to seven years, and up to $35,000 annually for contract lengths of eight to 12 years.

Those pilots also have the option to receive a lump sum payment of $100,000 for the five-to-seven-year contracts and $200,000 for the eight-to-12-year contracts.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators
F-35A Lightning II pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings are met by family and friends as they return home on May 10, 2020, after a six-month deployment to the Middle East. Photo by R. Nial Bradshaw/US Air Force, courtesy of DVIDS.

Remotely piloted aircraft pilots can receive the same benefits, except they can only opt for a $100,000 lump sum payout for contract lengths of eight to 12 years. Combat search and rescue rotary-wing pilots are set to receive annual bonus payments of $15,000 for contracts lasting five to seven years, and up to $25,000 annually for contract lengths of eight to 12 years.

The stress of more than two decades of constant combat deployments has spurred many Air Force pilots to hang up their spurs, so to speak, and head for the airlines or other civilian careers. In March 2020, the Air Force reported that it was 2,100 pilots short of the 21,000 required to execute the National Defense Strategy.

In its fiscal year 2021 budget request to Congress, the Air Force described its crop of pilots as “a force that remains inspired to serve, but are nevertheless stressed by nearly two decades of sustained combat.”

The bonuses are intended to keep pilots in the Air Force. However, with the commercial airline industry in turmoil from the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of pilots looking to leave the service may already be set to decrease in the coming years. Nevertheless, the diminished pull of the commercial aviation economy could be offset if the tempo of military operations ticks up again in the coming years.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators
US Air Force Lt. Col. Frederick M. Wilmer III, a KC-10 Extender pilot with the 76th Air Refueling Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, has apple cider poured on him by his daughter, Samantha, after completing his final flight at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., May 18, 2018. Photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen/US Air Force, courtesy of DVIDS.

“Retention of these valued aviators remains at risk should operational demands continue to outpace our available force structure, shifting the burden of a high operations tempo onto our already stressed aircrew,” the Air Force budget document added.

To make up the pilot shortfall, the Air Force is also looking to add more pilots; the service’s stated goal is to train 1,480 new aircrew annually by 2024.

“Increasing production of new aviators remains the most significant lever we have to arrest aircrew shortages,” the Air Force stated.

To ramp up its pilot “production,” the Air Force is experimenting with an expedited pilot training curriculum for certain types of aircraft.

The Accelerated Path to Wings program trains transport pilots in about seven months, as opposed to the traditional 12-month undergraduate pilot training program. The expedited curriculum cuts flight time in the T-6 Texan II aircraft — which includes training in aerobatics and other skills that aren’t necessarily essential to pilots of large transport aircraft. Rather, Accelerated Path to Wings student pilots perform all their training in the T-1A Jayhawk.

The Air Force is also experimenting with “augmented reality training” to accelerate the pilot training curriculum and cut down on costs.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Intel

These are the differences between the FBI and CIA

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency: Many Americans often pair the two high-level security organizations together. While agents of both organizations report directly to the Director of National Intelligence and their work often overlaps, their overall structure and mission differ vastly.


The key differences between the organizations lie in where the security threat comes from, who they are essentially extensions of, and the authorities granted to both. It can basically be summed up by what the ‘I’ in their names stand for. The FBI focuses on investigating crimes while the CIA focuses on gathering intelligence.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

The FBI works under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. They are essentially business-suit-wearing police officers, although they function at a much higher level.

The Bureau was founded after merging several other branches of the Department of Justice together. Early work of the FBI was to hunt down known gangsters of the 1930s, such as John Dillinger, “Baby Face” Nelson, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. Over the years, the FBI has taken on more counter-terrorism roles in the wake of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and the apprehension of the Unabomber.

While the work of the FBI is occasionally covert, their presence is much more known than that of the CIA. They have field offices in 56 major cities, 350 smaller offices, and are in many embassies and consulates. Despite how films portray them (especially when the protagonist is a police officer and FBI agents are in their way), they often work hand-in-hand with many police stations.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

Central Intelligence Agency

The CIA, on the other hand, is actually a civilian foreign intelligence service of the United States government. Among countless other functions (countless because a lot of internal workings of the CIA are classified), this is where you would find the spies.

Created as a successor to the Office of Strategic Services, the first real mission of the CIA was to gather what information it could during the Korean War and, eventually, against the Soviet Union. The CIA has been known to install pro-American governments around the world.

The CIA doesn’t let information out about the size and scope of their operations, but it’s generally considered that they hide in plain sight in many locations around the world. As mentioned, the CIA employs much more than spies. Translators, cyber-analysts, and negotiators are far more common.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators
Because of the nature of their work, anyone in this crowd could be a CIA agent.

To learn more about the differences between the two agencies, check out the video below:

 

(The Infographics Show | YouTube)

Intel

Brad Pitt is starring as Gen. Stanley McChrystal in ‘War Machine’

Ready your Netflix queue because Brad Pitt is bringing “War Machine” — a new feature film directed by David Michod — to your favorite online streaming service.


Pitt will star as a badass military general inspired by real-life Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who formerly commanded American and international forces in Afghanistan.

The $30 million Netflix feature is based on journalist Michael Hastings’ best-selling book “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan.” Pitt will be playing a four-star general whose “lethal reputation and impeccable track record vaults him to command the American war in Afghanistan,” Netflix said in press release.

Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos told Deadline:

“War Machine is a rip-roaring, behind-the-facade tale of modern war decision-makers, from the corridors of power to the distant regions of America’s ambitions.”

So for Pitt, a little less “Fury” and a little more “Inglorious Bastards.” We can dig it.

Read the full story at Deadline

DON’T MISS: Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

Intel

This mesmerizing video shows an AK-74 rifle firing in slow motion

AK-variant rifles are among the most reliable and easy-to-use rifles in the world, and this mesmerizing video of one firing in slow motion helps explain the reason why.


The strength of the AK is in its simplicity and its ability to fire in just about any environment. Smaller in size and weight than its AK-47 big brother, the AK-74 fires a 5.45x39mm cartridge instead of the 7.62x39mm. But just like the AK-47, the 74 has very few parts, has simple functionality, and is very easy to use.

This video from Vickers Tactical shows you what it’s like firing in extremely slow motion:

Intel

Why military dolphins are more hardcore than you’d think

Troops have long used animals in warfare. Horses to carry them into battle, pigeons to send messages, and dogs to do all sorts of things a good boy does. The Animal Kingdom’s second smartest species is no exception when it comes to fighting in our wars.


The military dolphin program began in 1960 when the U.S. Navy was looking for an easier method of detecting underwater mines. Their solution was to use the animals that play around the mines without problem: the bottlenose dolphin and the California sea lion.

Dolphins are naturally very brilliant animals with an advanced memory and strong deductive reasoning skills. Their ability to understand that performing certain tasks meant getting fishy treats allowed the U.S. Navy to make excellent use of their biosonar. Every mine they locate, they get a treat. Sea lions are just easy to train and have good underwater vision. According to the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, there are roughly 75 dolphins and 50 sea lions in the Navy Marine Mammal Program.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators
The dolphins get much more love because, well, they’re more useful to the Navy.
(Photo by Alan Antczak)

Military dolphins have many unique abilities to offer the Navy if trained properly. Outside of mine detection, they make excellent underwater guards. Dolphins can be trained to distinguish friendly ships from foes and, when a threat is detected, will press an alert button on allied posts.

With further training, dolphins can actually place mines on the bottom of ships or physically attack enemy divers.

Since the program began, dolphins have been used in every conflict alongside the Navy. In Vietnam, they were used to guard an ammunition pier. In the Tanker War, the US protected Kuwaiti oil exports by deploying dolphins to guard Third Fleet ships.

This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators
It’s like being at SeaWorld. But instead of jumping through hoops, the dolphins will beat the hell out of you or attach a bomb to your boat.
(U.S. Navy Photo)

Unfortunately, this hasn’t come without harm to our porpoise partners. They’re naturally playful animals and changing a normally cheerful animal into a beast of war, even if just for training, ruins the dolphin’s chance at a normal life. They aren’t meant for domestication and the added stress greatly reduces their life expectancy.

The U.S. Navy isn’t the only nation to use military dolphins. Russia, Ukraine, and possibly Iran do as well and, sadly, their marine mammals aren’t treated anywhere near as well. A scathing statement from Kiev about the Ukrainian dolphins that were taken by Russia after the annexation of Crimea supposedly applauded the deaths of the starved dolphins. To them, the dolphins were “so patriotic” that they would sooner die than follow Russian commands.

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