Sunday, May 8, 2011


One of Special Forces core missions is Foreign Internal Defense. FID as it is commonly known is where Special Forces teams will deploy and train an allied country’s armed forces in techniques and tactics. This is what SF has done in Iraq and Afghanistan with some of the police forces or militias. Back in 1993 missions of this type where few and far between, however one opportunity lay with Joint Task Force 6. JFT-6 was headquartered out of El Paso Texas and was a counter drug task force that utilized U.S. military members to assist law enforcement in the interdiction of cross boarder drug movement. Due to the restrictions of the “Posse Comitatus” statute U.S. military could not actually apprehend the criminals but we could conduct surveillance and train law enforcement.
So in 1993 my ODA was asked to conduct an MTT (Mobile Training Team) mission in conjunction with the Colorado River Indian Tribes Police Department. CRIT was headquartered in the town of Parker, Arizona. Parker was a small town located on the CRIT reservation that sat along the California border and the Colorado River. My team flew into the Phoenix airport then moved by rental vehicle to the reservation arriving in the early evening after about a 3 hour drive. We checked into our hotel and since we would be meeting with our liaison in the morning we decided to go out and see what the town had to offer.
As it turned out not much, and we ended up at the local watering hole “The Red Pony.” We walked into the dark smoky bar and after our eyes adjusted noticed we were obviously the only non-locals in attendance. Well this never stopped any of us before so we found a table and ordered a few pitchers. After about an hour, an obviously very intoxicated gentleman who introduced himself as Tyrone sat done and started to talk to us. Tyrone was Native American as most of the patrons where, and he started to pepper us with questions about who we were and what we were doing in town. Not knowing who we were dealing with, we gave him our cover story of being travelers on the way to Los Angeles. We offered him some of our beer, an invitation he happily accepted. Eventually he became comatose and some of his friends came over and helped us get him to his car. Since he was obviously in no condition to drive one of us drove him home and dropped him off.
The next morning when we reported to the police station lo and behold but who should greet us in the squad room but Tyrone! He was a member of the police department and would be one of the officers going through our training. Due to our friendliness the night before he was our self appointed liaison and protector for the remainder of our deployment. Once he and the other members of the force found out my wife was Native American we practically became honorary tribal members.
So we started on a planned 2 week training schedule of physical training, land navigation, shooting and tactics instruction. Every day we would meet at the police station and take the officers through physical training. Our Engineer Sergeant built them a pull up bar and cemented it in out front of the squad room. Officers were required to do 10 pull ups prior to entering the building. After some land navigation instruction we conducted a day/night navigation course out in the desert. These officers enjoyed this training so much that they designated our land navigation course as one of the selection criteria for the Tribal Special Reaction Team.
We also instructed them in tactics and building entry techniques. One of their main concerns was drugs being moved up the Colorado River and stored in “safe houses” on the reservation. Over and over again we conducted mock building entries until finally it was time for the culmination event. Half our team would occupy an abandoned residence surrounded by fields. They would act as drug dealers while the rest of us would conduct surveillance and eventually raid the residence as advisors to the police force.
Myself and one of our Engineer Sergeants would accompany the surveillance element, while the other Weapons Sergeant and one of our Medical Sergeants would accompany the assault element. Our Team Sergeant was on the objective with the rest of the team acting as bad guys. Our Team leader remained at the Police HQ with the Chief of Police to act as command and control.
So the Reaction Team paged itself out and under our guidance conducted pre-mission planning and rehearsals. After a successful debrief of the Chief of Police the surveillance element infiltrated via patrol car about 2 miles from the residence. This house was surrounded  by wide open fields but there were several irrigation ditches that led to within a few hundred yards of the objective. It was one of these ditches we followed to within about 200 meters of the objective. We infiltrated just at dusk and the plan was to confirm the house was occupied and that there was reasonable suspicion to request a high risk search warrant. Our surveillance team remained on the objective throughout the night reporting back situation reports of any activity.
Our team members on the objective, that were acting as the opposing force, would randomly exit the structure carrying weapons or patrol around the property. Twice vehicles pulled up and cargo was offloaded into a shed and the residence itself. At roughly 0500 the ok was given to execute the search warrant. Our surveillance team switched responsibilities and became a support element as the assault team came down the gravel road laying down in the back of a pick up truck. We deployed the two police snipers armed with mini-14’s in positions of cover and concealment but where they had a clear field of fire. Being a training exercise these weapons were not loaded, however the assault team and the “bad guys” all had M16 and M9 pistols equipped with simunitions. Simunitions are similar to paintballs and by merely changing the receiver on individual weapons they could be utilized for live fire training with real time feedback. Oh and they hurt.
The assault pickup pulled to a stop in the driveway and the assault element piled out and stacked up on the front door of the residence. Announcing the warrant and getting no response they breached the door and entered the residence. We heard an exchange of gunfire from our over watch position and eventually saw our teammates being led from the house in custody. They were loaded in police cruisers that had arrived on scene after entry had been made and taken back to the Police HQ.
During the debrief it was determined that had this been an actual entry there would have been one officer down as a casualty and two of the “bad guys.” Good and bad points of the raid were discussed. The next day after an exchange of certificates and kudos we hit the road back to Phoenix to catch our flight to Massachusetts. It was training like this that kept our Special Forces teams sharp during the dark days of downsizing and general malaise in the military following the first Gulf War.

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