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On Dec. 10, 2018, law enforcement personnel from Mali, Tunisia, Niger, Kenya, and the U.S. Embassy in Kenya gathered in Nairobi for the first Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) multinational tactical training and competition event for embassy quick response forces known as Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response, or SPEAR, teams.

An instructor (left) with the Diplomatic Security Service’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program hands out preloaded magazines as law enforcement officers with a Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response (SPEAR) team from Kenya prepare to demonstrate their firearms skills during the first SPEAR Quick Response Force Summit Challenge, December 10, 2018, in Nairobi. ATA trains SPEAR teams in participating nations to respond within minutes to emergencies involving U.S. diplomatic facilities or personnel. (51 Seconds photo)

At the Quick Response Force Summit Challenge 2018, SPEAR teams from Mali, Tunisia, Niger, and Kenya competed along with a crisis response unit from the Kenyan National Police Service and a security team from the U.S. Embassy’s Regional Security Office. The non-U.S. law enforcement teams had been trained by DSS’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program.

The event consisted of five days of tactical security refresher training each morning in a particular topic — firearms proficiency, tactical medicine, explosive incident identification and response, personnel recovery and evacuation, and physical fitness — followed by a competition each afternoon. The Summit Challenge focused on instruction and a review of the tactics required to protect U.S. diplomatic facilities from terrorist attacks taught in ATA’s basic quick response force course.

Law enforcement officers with a Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response (SPEAR) team from Niger run to their next position during the observer support/medical test at the Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program’s first SPEAR Quick Response Force Summit Challenge, December 11, 2018, in Nairobi. The Diplomatic Security Service’s ATA trains SPEAR teams in participating nations to respond within minutes to emergencies involving U.S. diplomatic facilities or personnel. (51 Seconds photo)

The competition portion of the course tested the abilities of each team’s skill level in a head-to-head competition on the range as well as their capabilities in rapid decision-making, teamwork under extreme stress, and physical fitness levels. The friendly competition also helped build comraderie and cooperation among the law enforcement teams from the five participating nations.

Through the SPEAR program, ATA trains and provides equipment grants to specially selected law enforcement officers in participating host nations to enable their affiliated units to respond within minutes to emergencies involving U.S. diplomatic facilities or personnel.

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Launched in 2014, ATA’s SPEAR program has provided support and training for host nation law enforcement and security personnel to enhance security capabilities for U.S. diplomatic missions in Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Iraq, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, and Tunisia.

ATA has become the U.S. Department of State’s premier antiterrorism training and equipment provider for foreign law enforcement agencies. All ATA assistance is delivered within a rule-of-law framework that promotes respect for human rights and fosters development of self-sustaining capabilities.

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U.S. Department of State

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