Deaths Of FBI Agents Highlight America's Domestic 'Delta' Special Operations Police Force

FBI HRTAn HRT Operator

Two FBI Agents apparently died Friday while trying to fast-rope from a helicopter to a ship, just off Virginia Beach, an FBI spokesperson told Fox News.

Previous reports had indicated the agents died in a training accident “involving at least one military helicopter,” but the fast-roping detail reveals a lot since normal FBI Agents don’t do much “fast-roping” — a technique used to rapidly deploy assault elements from a hovering helicopter.

The agents were part of the elite Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), and were “participating in a maritime counterterrorism exercise,” said the spokesperson.

The HRT often trains with military special operators, which explains their presence in Virginia Beach, also home to U.S. Navy SEALs. 

Consequently, their deaths also highlight the long-time trend of domestic law enforcement militarization.

In the book, “U.S. Counter-Terrorist Forces,” authors Terry Griswold, D. M. Giangreco, Stephen F. Tomajczyk outline the birth of HRT, which happened almost concurrently (just a few years after) with the Army’s elite “Delta.”

William H. Webster, HRT’s founder, had witnessed Army Delta training and knew that the U.S. needed a domestic counter-terror unit to match. The only problem: the Posse Comitatus Act prevented deployment of U.S. troops inside America without a “Presidential Directive.”

Webster speculated that if he could create a domestic unit, which would train alongside military special operators, the FBI wouldn’t be violating the act.

So Delta operators trained and vetted the first unit. Upon their official creation, after watching an exercise, Webster worried it was too “macho an approach” to law enforcement, that it “had an unpleasant militaristic nature.”

Regardless, it’s lasted more than 30 years and, according to the FBI website, and invited less than 300 candidates to permanently join. They’ve conducted more than 800 hostage missions in and out of the U.S. since they stood up in 1983.

And, most importantly, the HRT is the only counterterrorism direct-action group in domestic law enforcement that trains with and also recruits Army “Delta,” Navy SEALs, and other black operations military operators.

Though, even former military operators still have to do two years in an investigative capacity prior to trying out for HRT.

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