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Should the Military Develop S.W.A.T. Units?

by Steven J. Kaplan

In past articles for Arresting Solutions, I've written about the various aspects and areas of S.W.A.T., military combative measures, and military police. One article in particular (S.W.AT. vs. Special Forces: A Valid Comparison?) briefly examined the purposes and functions of each entity, and concluded that a comparison is purposeless and invalid. In another article (Is Taiho-Jutsu Enough for S.W.A.T.?), I cited that the original S.A.C. certificate awarded to trainees by the Air Force and Kodokan was one in Combative Measures, with Taiho-Jutsu as one of the arts taught. There were techniques in that program which extended beyond those of "pure" Taiho-Jutsu. In yet another article (Military Police: Taiho-Jutsu or Combative Measures?), the advantage of having military police trained in Taiho-Jutsu was discussed. With the information and background of these articles in mind, the current article combines elements of all these, and addresses a new question: Should the army (representing any and all U.S. military branches) have their own S.W.A.T. teams?

The first step to answering this question is to pose other questions. Why would the military even need a S.W.A.T. unit? Do they not have state-of-the-art weaponry available, enabling them to handle any situation which may arise? Aren't their personnel already in physical shape and well-trained? Why develop S.W.A.T.? To begin with, as mentioned in reference to an earlier article, S.W.A.T. purposes and goals are very specialized and unique. While military police may be equated to law enforcement patrolmen, and C.I.D. investigators compared to detectives, using military police for those situations which require S.W.A.T. skills is pointless. They simply do not have the training. Nor do the C.I.D. investigators, who, like police detectives, may be so old or out of shape for the specialized S.W.A.T. work. This is coupled with the fact that they too do not receive the specialized training S.W.A.T. members receive. There is, however, yet another reason why the military should develop S.W.A.T. units. That reason is a mindset.



To elaborate, in one of the earlier articles mentioned, it was explained that one of the primary purposes of S.W.A.T. is to resolve high risk situations with a minimum loss of life, property, or injury, not kill or maim the enemy, or destroy targeted areas, as you find with special forces for example. While it may seem easy to think or say, "What's the big deal, just impress on the troops what their purpose truly is!" The problem here is you can't take a soldier who has undergone the mental and physical process of basic training, and expect that individual to have a changed series of thought patterns and behaviors simply because s/he is now being told to think and act differently. Nor can you expect military police, whose role is most similar to their non-military counterparts in law enforcement, to assume a role for which they have not been properly trained. Again, S.W.A.T. personnel are highly trained and specialized. This results from hard work and specialized skills which are taught, not words and honorable intentions. The unarmed and armed methods needed for S.W.A.T. combine Taiho-Jutsu (in its most generic sense) with combative measures, armed and unarmed.

As a tangential note, it may be remembered that after the swift military victory over the Iraqi military in Gulf I, police S.W.A.T. units from the U.S. were brought in to train the troops in specialized methods in policing and dealing with specialized civilian situations.
It is for the above reasons that it is felt that the U.S. military would be wise to develop S.W.A.T. units.

[Note—The military does have Special Response Teams (S.R.T.), comprised of military police members. They receive training in two parts—the first lasts two weeks, the second one week (which is the sniper phase). If this is compared to the S.W.A.T. training members receive in civilian settings, it is woefully inadequate and incomplete. S.R.T. units are not found on all army posts.]

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