View Full Version : Security mission completed

05-22-03, 11:53 AM
Security mission completed

Lance Cpl. Sharon E. Fox
Combat Correspondent

After more than six decades, Marines Corps Security Force Company Keflavik, Iceland has completed its security mission. The company and its 51 Marines disestablished April 30 and have redesignated as the 3rd Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Company in Yorktown, Va.

The defense of Iceland was first undertaken as early as July 7, 1941, when the first Marine stepped onto a wind-blown platform in Reykjavik. Until the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces Dec. 1, 1941, the Marines were creating defensive works and training for a possible amphibious or airborne invasion from German forces. After the bombing, however, the Marines were called back to the U.S. to form up to fight the Japanese in the Pacific theater. The Marines would not be back in significant numbers until 1961, when they came back in force to form Marine Barracks Keflavik, Iceland.

MCSFCO Keflavik provided a station reaction force in direct support of the station Naval Security Force. Sustainment training opportunities for both security and infantry skills are not available in Iceland. Live-fire ranges and training areas are not closely accessible for the company here, requiring the Marines to deploy at great expense to various other locations to maintain minimal standards of operational readiness.

“Iceland is an excellent environment for cold weather and patrol training,” said Capt. Michael Darling, commanding officer of 3rd FAST Company. “However, we don’t have the facilities available for some of the training we need to keep our Marines as well trained as we like. In Virginia we’ll have all sorts of facilities to conduct the training we need to.”

Even though many of the Marines are sad to leave Iceland, they know their new assignment is in the Marine Corps’ best interests. It will also allow them to play a larger role in the global war on terrorism.

“FAST Companies have a world-wide responsibility,” said Brig. Gen Douglas O’Dell Jr., commanding general, 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism). “Since Sept. 11, 2001, 13 FAST platoons have proven to be just not enough. By redesignating these Marines into another FAST company, we’ll now have 18 FAST platoons available to respond to any crisis throughout the world.”

O’Dell also said 3rd FAST Company can expect some high-tempo, world-wide missions. FAST platoons supported Navy Seals in the capture of Iraqi oil platforms near Shatt al Arab early on during Operation Iraqi Freedom. They have also been actively utilized in the hunt for Al Queda terrorists. The Marines reinforced the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania after terrorist attacks in 1998 and were the first responders after the USS Cole tragedy.

Darling added that the Marines will be leaving behind some good relationships here, but that it is best for Marines to look forward to their new assignment.

“We’ve developed a good relationship with the Icelandic people over the years,” said Darling. “Some Icelanders can remember when the Marines were the first U.S. forces to arrive in the country.

“We’ve developed some close and long-lasting relationships over the years, but to Iceland’s credit, this is not one of the most dangerous places in the world. Our transformation into a FAST Company will allow us to be more flexible and efficient while responding to any need throughout the world.”

The battalion, headquartered in Norfolk, Va., provides armed anti-terrorism and physical security-trained personnel to high value naval installations or units. The battalion maintains a worldwide presence at 10 different locations from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf.

FAST Marines protect key naval assets to include strategic weapons, command and control facilities and naval support activities. Marine Corps Security Force Battalion is comprised of more than 2,300 Marines and Sailors stationed around the world.

Each FAST Marine is highly trained in counter-surveillance, physical security operations, urban combat techniques and martial arts. They are also equipped with advanced security systems including chemical alarms and explosive detection technology.

The mission of Marine Corps Security Forces is to detect, deter and defend against threats with a focus on anti-terrorism. The redesignation of Keflavik’s 51-Marine unit will provide a more flexible and mission-focused expeditionary force prepared to support geographic needs based on emerging anti-terrorism, force protection requirements.

O’Dell stressed that although the Marines will be leaving to become a FAST company they are in no means abandoning Iceland.
“This is not an end, but a transition,” said O’Dell. “Because whenever they are needed, Marines will be back here in Iceland.”




Official U.S. Marine Corps photo