Investigative Programs
Critical Incident Response Group

The Tactical Section, made up of the Hostage Rescue Team and the Operations Training Unit, ensures that the FBI has a full time, national-level tactical team capable of being deployed to protect the American people at home and overseas.

Hostage Rescue Team

Servare Vitas—“To Save Lives”

Our Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) is a full time, national-level tactical team, based in Quantico, Virginia. The mission of the HRT is to be prepared to deploy to any location within four hours of notification by the FBI Director or his designated representative and to conduct a successful rescue of U.S. persons and others who may be held illegally by a hostile force—either terrorist or criminal in nature. The HRT is also prepared to deploy to any location and perform other law enforcement activities as directed by appropriate authorities.

Hostage Rescue Team
Learn more about our Hostage Rescue Team in an article called “The quiet professionals: Training the FBI’s tactical elite” from the February/March 2009 issue of the Training & Simulation Journal published by the Army Times. pdf | html(reproduced with permission)

The HRT operationally deploys in support of FBI field divisions and performs a number of law enforcement tactical functions in all environments and under a variety of conditions. The team, or components of the team, have deployed on more 200 occasions in support of terrorism, violent criminal, foreign counterintelligence, and other investigations. HRT has performed missions involving hostage rescue, barricaded subjects, high-risk arrest and warrant service (raids), and dive search. Additionally, the HRT has performed traditional law enforcement roles during hurricane relief operations, dignitary protection missions, tactical surveys, and on occasion, pre-positions in support of special events such as the Olympic Games, presidential inaugurations, and political conventions.

Past and Present

In 1982, a decision was made at the highest levels of the U.S. Department of Justice to create a special counterterrorist unit within law enforcement to offer a tactical option for any extraordinary hostage crisis occurring within the United States. The decision was made to create this unit within the FBI. As a result, the Attorney General authorized the formation of the HRT, comprised of carefully selected, highly motivated, and experienced agents. After several months of intensive training and the procurement of special equipment necessary for such a group, the team was activated in 1983 and assigned to the Washington Metropolitan Field Office.

Today, the HRT is part of the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG). The HRT is structured to deploy with all or part of its personnel and resources—depending on the magnitude of a crisis—and can be augmented by other CIRG entities with specialists trained in areas of negotiation, behavioral science, and communications.

Selection and Training

Assignment to the HRT is voluntary and is open to all FBI agents. HRT operators are selected based upon their background and experience, as well as their demonstrated performance during a rigorous two-week selection course. Once selected, operators undergo a four-month initial training program.

When not operationally deployed, the HRT conducts full-time training at sites across the country, including at Quantico. The HRT trains for a wide variety of missions and in all climates found within the U.S. and its territories. This training consists of highly specialized, tactical law enforcement operations including:

  • Hostage rescue and barricaded subjects;
  • High risk arrest/searches;
  • Mobile assaults;
  • Manhunt and rural operations;
  • Maritime operations;
  • Helicopter operations;
  • Weapons of mass destruction; and,
  • Cold weather operation

Operations and Training Unit

The Operations and Training Unit provides direct training and operational support to the Hostage Rescue Team and FBI SWAT Teams. It manages the core training programs of the Hostage Rescue Team and provides operations management, planning, and oversight during a deployment of HRT. The unit ensures that members of the HRT are prepared to meet any crisis situation that may develop.

Critical Incident Response Group home