FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams

FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams are specialized part-time tactical teams (SWAT) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI maintains SWAT teams at each of its 56 field offices throughout the country.[3]

The Firearms Unit at the FBI Academy began developing SWAT teams in the early 1970s.[2][4] In 1973, the Wounded Knee siege occurred in South Dakota.[2] The FBI established a regional SWAT program following the siege to organize SWAT teams and provide qualified command personnel.[2]

SWAT teams are specially trained to serve warrants and intervene in high-risk incidents such as active shooters and barricaded suspects and provide protection of personnel or dignitaries.[1][5][6][7]

SWAT teams are trained to a national standard and utilize the same equipment which enables a team to provide assistance to another field office team.[3] SWAT teams can be dispatched to aid local law enforcement with limited resources to manage large-scale high-risk incidents.

Every individual SWAT Operator is trained primarily as an Assaulter. However, Operators are also trained in an additional secondary role as a Sniper, Breacher or Medic.

Several factors can determine the use for SWAT. Some of those factors are:

The SWAT Operations Unit (SOU), which is part of the Critical Incident Response Group, oversees the Bureau’s SWAT program.[3] The SOU is responsible for developing standardized training, procedures and tactics, and for research and development including equipment, for the SWAT teams to ensure interoperability for multiple-office deployments. During multiple-office deployments the SOU provides planning assistance and oversight.[3] SWAT Teams train on average 32 hours a month.[1]

Nine SWAT teams are designated as "Enhanced" level SWAT and are specially trained to be able to assist/augment the full time national Hostage Rescue Team if needed.[9][10] Enhanced SWAT teams are typically located at larger field offices, comprise a larger number of personnel than standard teams, in addition to having increased access to additional tactical equipment and methods.[10]

Atlanta FBI SWAT Operators performing a door breaching during a training exercise

SWAT teams carry a variety of weapons that are generally found in most other law enforcement and counter-terrorist tactical teams. The following are some of the primary weapons of SWAT:

FBI SWAT teams use vehicles similar to those that local law enforcement SWAT teams use, such as:

In the 2010 film The Town, several FBI SWAT personnel take part in a shootout against a group of Boston-based bank robbers during the film’s finale.

In the 1997 film Face/Off, an FBI tactical unit raids the loft of the terrorist, Castor Troy.

In the 2013 video game Payday 2, the FBI SWAT are one of the possible law enforcement groups that players can encounter during a police assault.

In the 2015 video game Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, the FBI SWAT are one of the counter-terrorism units the player can play as. Some of these same FBI SWAT members are available as teammates in the 2019 video game Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and several FBI-themed customization options are available to the player character.