A special reaction team of Marines were sent to secure the U.S. Embassy in Haiti as security conditions continued to deteriorate under gang warfare in the nation’s capital. The country’s government has effectively surrendered control of Port-au-Prince to armed militias as the arrival of a U.N.-sponsored force led by the Kenyan military was called off in the face of widespread violence.

The Marine unit is a Fleet-Anti-terrorism Security Team or FAST teams, a company-sized rapid reaction force that can deploy quickly to provide security to important installations like Embassies, Naval bases and other U.S. outposts. A FAST platoon is roughly 50 Marines. FAST teams train in a wide range of skills surrounding the security of a building or location.

“At the request of the Department of State, the U.S. Southern Command deployed a U.S. Marine Fleet-Anti-terrorism Security Team to maintain strong security capabilities at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and conduct relief in place for our current Marines,” a release from Southern Command said. “The U.S. Embassy remains open, and limited operations continue, focused on assistance to US citizens and supporting Haitian-led efforts to secure a peaceful transition of power.”

FAST teams train to augment Marine Security Guard units that normally man embassies with a wide range of security skills, equipment and specialties. FAST teams are trained in basic security measures like personnel and car searches, but also train to respond to and repel active attacks, from rowdy, unplanned mob scenes to deliberate so-called “complex” attacks. FAST teams also have snipers trained in counter-sniper tactics and explosive ordinance disposal experts.

Marine Corps photo

Haiti  Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned over the weekend as private militias have attacked police stations, prisons and other government and infrastructure.