8th Military Police among grads of SWAT-like course
Story and photos by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs,
8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Silent, they stand at the doorway, nine in total.
A simple mission lies before them: clear the building and secure the safety of the hostages.
Seconds go by like minutes.
A squeeze shoots through the line as each Soldier grabs the one in front of him, signaling not only are they ready to go, but also they have each other’s back.
The Soldiers tense up; they’ve done this before, but it’s never easy. Suddenly a sharp, quick explosion pierces the silence. The flex-linear charge, set up moments before, on the door, surgically cuts an opening.
And through the smoke, once more into the breach they go.
For these military police — part of a group of 26 Soldiers from units in Korea; the 25th Infantry Division; the 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command; and the Directorate of Emergency Services — the last thing on their minds is how they are just training.
They also are not thinking about their graduation as Special Reaction Team members, here, Aug. 24.
Distractions are for Soldiers not ready for the brutal realities of the SRT, the Army’s equivalent of a SWAT, or Special Weapons and Tactics team, a unit that stands ready to rapidly engage in hostage situations, conduct drug stings and provide an added level of firepower and skill sets to the military police mission.
Instead, these Soldiers focus solely on their mission at hand.
The teams burst through the breach like water through a busted dam. Any room that wasn’t occupied by a Soldier soon finds itself filled with three.
Smoke and haze fill the hallways, but a simple strategy keeps the teams on the move. Find a room, stack, first two enter, third stands watch. Clear the room, restack, move to the next room.
Pop-pop … pop.
A rhythmic sound of bullets echoes through the house.
Pop-pop … pop. Pop-pop … pop.
The sounds of life and death.
Every room contains enemies, hostages, or both. Their movements are mechanical, second-nature, decisions few, but the Soldiers know that the one decision they have to make is why they were chosen: to know when to pull or not to pull the trigger.
Shoot too quickly, miss the enemy, or worse — shoot too quickly, hit the hostage.
A team comes up on the second to last room. They enter.
The Soldier to the left pulls up his rifle; a split-second decision is made. He fires two shots into the chest and one into the head of a terrorist’s silhouette.
He looks to his right; his teammate holds his 9mm at the ready. Three bullet holes mark his target, another terrorist.
They restack. One room left.
No chances will be taken. One of the Soldiers pulls out what he calls a distraction device, a name that doesn’t do justice to the object’s crippling stun capability.
Without a word, the team choreographs a grenade toss.
A silent count is given. Three … two … one … BOOM.
The team storms the final room, a thick cloud of smoke fills the space, and in an instant, shots ring out.
Their decisions … perfect.
The last terrorist is down.
The last hostage is saved.