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FASTCENT stands ready to execute its mission

By Sgt Travis Jordan

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U.S. Marines assigned to Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Company, Central Command (FASTCENT) stand ready to conduct rapid response expeditionary security operations in support of U.S. 5th Fleet and Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

“Based in Bahrain, FASTCENT provides platoon-sized forces capable of providing precision fires, employing crew served weapons, non-lethal weapons, riot control formations and a greater level of expertise when it comes to defensive operations and fixed-site security,” said Maj. Alex Luedtke, the company commander of FASTCENT. “If you need a vital naval or national asset secured or defended in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, a FAST platoon is an option that is ready now to accomplish the mission.”

According to Luedtke, since the unit’s activation in 1986, FASTCENT forces have performed a wide range of missions related to deterring, detecting, mitigating, and defending vital naval and national assets against terrorism.

“This legacy of sustained readiness makes, FASTCENT the force of choice for expeditionary security operations,” said Luedtke. “FAST teams are predominantly made up of infantry Marines who complete a rigorous training before being assigned to a FAST Platoon. Their specialized training begins at the Basic Security Guard Course in Chesapeake, Virginia, where they receive the individual skills required to perform the duties of a FAST Marine. Once part of a FAST platoon, the Marines continue to build their lethality by training to collective tasks. A FAST platoon’s training culminates at their mission rehearsal exercise where the Marine Corps Security Force Regiment certifies them to deploy."

FASTCENT had the opportunity to test these skills during exercise Native Fury 18, a rehearsal in the United Arab Emirates that enabled U.S. Marines and Sailors to exercise maritime prepositioning force (MPF) capabilities.

“Marines were deployed aboard USNS Seay (T-AKR 302) and USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo (T-AK 3008) to provide security aboard the vessels for the duration of the exercise,” said Sgt. Shaun Bagby, a squad leader with FASTCENT. “Due to the unique nature of the MPF evolution, the ships needed to have some level of organic force protection to operate in the U.S. Central Command’s often contested environments.”

Bagby explained that FASTCENT forces are scalable, usually have a small footprint and can act as a bridging force by getting to the objective, removing the immediate threat and buying time for a larger force such as Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force or the Marine Expeditionary Unit to come in and relieve the initial force.

“Going back to the birth of the U.S. Marine Corps, the whole reason the Corps was created was for embarked security aboard U.S. Navy vessels,” said Bagby. “Not only for our military ships, but also civilian ships as we saw in the Battle of Tripoli. It feels good to come back and do what our forefathers did.”

Luedtke went on to explain that the TF 51/5 command and control structure ensures FASTCENT the flexibility it needs to be responsive.

“FASTCENT’s capabilities are perfectly paired with TF 51/5 and U.S. 5th Fleet,” said Luedtke. “TF 51/5 and U.S. 5th Fleet provide resources and enablers needed to execute our mission anytime or anywhere in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.”