The Marines pride themselves on being America’s 911 force, that, on relatively short notice, can deal with problems almost anywhere in the world. Within the elite U.S. Marine Corps, though, there is a select group of warriors that are always on a “hair trigger.”
Last year when the U.S. embassy was attacked in Libya and the local security forces couldn’t figure out what to do, the Pentagon made one call and dispatched 50 of its most elite warriors to that hot spot to secure the embassy and save the lives of the remaining personnel. The warriors that answered the call were the Marines of the Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, or FAST.
FAST Company Marines, along with the Recapture Tactics Teams (RTT), is a part of the Marine Core Security Forces.
A reliable and elite unit like FAST requires reliable and elite firearms. Here’s a look at the most common weaponry used by FAST Company Marines.
Because of the nature of what they do, FAST Company Marines use almost every weapon system in the Marine Corps arsenal. FAST Marines utilize M16 rifles and M4 carbines in multiple configurations, with Beretta M9 9mm pistols serving as sidearms. For really close CQB work, FAST Marines will also employ the HK MP5 in 9mm.
FAST Company Marines also have designated marksmen among their ranks to ensure observation and high ground coverage of team movements. Those warriors still use the M14 Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) for their work. The USMC Precision Weapons Section at Marine Corps Base Quantico build all DMRs. This weapon is a semi-automatic, gas-operated rifle chambered for the 7.62mm NATO cartridge. It is a modified version of the M14 rifle and fires match-grade 175-grain M118LR ammunition. The “basic” DMR weighs around 11 pounds.
Because they could be alone, outgunned and in need of heavy firepower for a longer-than-desirable period of time, all FAST elements also carry several machine guns. The M249 light machine gun, previously designated the M249 squad automatic weapon (SAW), is a 5.56mm NATO, gas-operated, belt-fed, open-bolt weapon with a cyclic rate of 775 rounds per minute.
The M240G is a belt-fed, gas-operated medium machine gun that fires the 7.62mm NATO cartridge. This weapon is a coaxial/pintle-mounted machine gun for tanks and LAVs. The M240G can be modified for ground use with a flash suppressor, a front sight, a carrying handle for the barrel, a buttstock, an infantry-length pistol grip, a bipod and a rear sight assembly.
The .50 BMG M2 Browning, popularly known as the “Ma Deuce,” is a belt-fed, gas-cooled, short-recoil-operated heavy machine gun. This weapon has a rate of fire of 650 to 900 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 2,910 fps and a maximum range of 7,400 yards.