New SRT provides life-saving protection
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- When violence transpires, there are very few people who willingly run toward the danger. However, Misawa has an elite team that has the responsibility of handling escalated crisis.
The 35th Security Forces Squadron special reaction team is prepared to handle any scenario that may arise on base and carries with it a vital mission-- to safeguard life in everything they face through the use of specialized training, equipment and tactics.
This is the first time Misawa has had an SRT and the team is poised to take on possible scenarios that may include hostage situations, barricaded suspects, cell block extractions or something they might do more often-- protecting the base's distinguished visitors.
"An SRT is the equivalent of a civilian SWAT team and its intent is to provide a well-managed tactical element as a resource for the 35 Fighter Wing commander," said Maj. Drew Gehler, 35 SFS commander. "All operations will be conducted with the highest regard for the preservation of life."
SRT members were selected after completing a series of tasks during a team tryout, which included a down-and-back swim in the pool, treading water and during a hands-on portion showing the willingness to learn proper procedures.
"During the tryout we did a lot of tests to evaluate the mental and physical capabilities of the candidates," said 1st Lt. Matthew Owens, 35 SFS officer in-charge of the SRT. "One thing we look for in particular is the ability to handle the stressful situations. This is to see who has the mental grit to push through difficult times and still get the job done."
Seven Airmen were welcomed as the team's first members.
A few of the Airmen knew this is what they wanted to do and were extremely grateful for the opportunity to tryout and become members of the team.
Airman 1st Class Nicholas Lotti, 35 SFS SRT team member, said it's the reason he signed the dotted line.
"I joined the military to do something that would have an impact on others and to work as a team to get the job done," said Lotti. "This team gives me the opportunity to do that."
According to Owens, being able to counter adverse scenarios is what the team is here for.
"A team like this is important to have because at any given moment a situation could arise that requires a specialized level of tactical training, communication and coordination," said Owens. "This can only be accomplished by a team that has dedicated their time and effort to perfecting these skills."
Keeping this in mind that anything could happen at any given time, Lotti says it gives him satisfaction to know they will be ready.
"You see things like this on TV with active shooters and stuff, so it feels good to know we have the training to be able to stop it if it ever were to happen at this base," said Lotti.