Among the Drug Enforcement Administration’s arsenal of counter-narcotics personnel, the Foreign-Deployed Advisory and Support Teams stand apart. The DEA trains and supports only five of these elite tactical units. One of these is permanently stationed in the Afghanistan theater of operations to conduct CN and counter-terrorist missions, with the support of a second FAST team that is rotated through. The other teams remain headquartered in Arlington, VA but usually conduct operations throughout the world’s most active narcotics production or trafficking regions.
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FAST units provide immediate tactical responses to emerging threats around the globe. Using training methods reserved for the nation’s most elite special operations forces, FAST units can rapidly deploy and bring to bear enormous firepower and tactical skill to eliminate or apprehend narcotics kingpins or terrorist leaders. Although designated as law enforcement officers, FAST team jobs involve using advanced weapons, strategies and technologies within an open-ended legal framework to remove potential threats to the country.
DEA FAST Team Job Description
FAST Team jobs require operatives to master the following skills:
- Covert infiltration of hostile zones
- Long distance marksmanship
- Interrogation and intelligence gathering
- Immediate battlefield decision-making
- Work seamlessly within a diverse tactical unit
- Operate communications equipment and vehicles within high risk situations
- Establish intelligence resources within criminal organizations
How to Become a FAST Team Member
The first step in how to become a FAST Team member is to join the DEA as a special agent. The minimum qualifications for special agents are:
- U.S. citizenship
- Bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.95 GPA
- Near normal vision and hearing
- Peak physical condition
- Ability to pass a background security investigation
- Ability to pass a drug test
Candidates will be evaluated for their oral and written communication, physical conditioning, leadership and situational decision making skills through a series of written and oral tests. If hired recruits must complete an 18-week training program before field assignments.
After completing the probationary period, special agents may apply to join the FAST unit. The eight-week selection process has a failure rate of 50 percent and includes timed runs, marches, land navigation and other extreme physical tests on a regular basis.
If selected, FAST recruits will receive training through the U.S. Special Operations Command. This rigorous training program will include:
- Close quarter combat shooting
- Surveillance detection
- Small unit tactics
- Combat lifesaving
- IED and demolitions identification
- Counter-threat driving
- Land warfare
- Escape and evade methods
- Convoy operations
- Counter narcotic tactical police operations
DEA FAST Team Salary
The members of DEA FAST teams are all special agents and receive salaries similar to other agents. FAST members must initially serve as ordinary agents for several years before they can join this unit, so their salaries may be inflated for seniority. Salary may also be adjusted for education, experience and skill set.
The pay grades for DEA agents range from GS-7 or GS-9 up to GS-13. In 2012 the salary ranges for these pay grades was: