FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams

FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams are specialized part-time tactical teams (SWAT) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI maintains SWAT teams at each of its 56 field offices throughout the country.[3]

FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams
SWAT operator rappelling at U.S. Army Garrison Fort McCoy in 2016
SWAT operator rappelling at U.S. Army Garrison Fort McCoy in 2016
Active1973 - present[1][2]
CountryUnited States United States
Agency Federal Bureau of Investigation
Full time team members26[1]
Part time team members1,073[1]
Teams56 (field offices)[1][3]


The Firearms Unit at the FBI Academy began developing SWAT teams in the early 1970s.[2][4] In 1973, the Wounded Knee siege occurred in South Dakota.[2] The FBI established a regional SWAT program following the siege to organize SWAT teams and provide qualified command personnel.[2]


SWAT teams are specially trained to serve warrants and intervene in high-risk incidents such as active shooters and barricaded suspects and provide protection of personnel or dignitaries.[1][5][6][7]

SWAT teams are trained to a national standard and utilize the same equipment which enables a team to provide assistance to another field office team.[3] SWAT teams can be dispatched to aid local law enforcement with limited resources to manage large-scale high-risk incidents.

Every individual SWAT operator is trained primarily as an Assaulter. However, operators are also trained in an additional secondary role as a Sniper, Breacher or Medic.


El Paso Field Office SWAT operators in a target training exercise

Several factors can determine the use for SWAT. Some of those factors are:

  • The potential of violence
  • The potential risk to law enforcement and the public
  • The location of the warrant service and case requirements[8]

SWAT Operations UnitEdit

The SWAT Operations Unit (SOU), which is part of the Critical Incident Response Group, oversees the Bureau’s SWAT program.[3] The SOU is responsible for developing standardized training, procedures and tactics, and for research and development including equipment, for the SWAT teams to ensure interoperability for multiple-office deployments. During multiple-office deployments the SOU provides planning assistance and oversight.[3] SWAT Teams train on average 32 hours a month.[1]

Enhanced SWAT teamsEdit

Nine SWAT teams are designated as "Enhanced" level SWAT and are specially trained to be able to assist/augment the full time national Hostage Rescue Team if needed.[9][10] Enhanced SWAT teams are typically located at larger field offices, comprise a larger number of personnel than standard teams, in addition to having increased access to additional tactical equipment and methods.[10]


Weapons utilizedEdit

Atlanta FBI SWAT operators performing a door breaching during a training exercise

SWAT teams carry a variety of weapons that are generally found in most other law enforcement and counter-terrorist tactical teams. The following are some of the primary weapons of SWAT:

Vehicles utilizedEdit

FBI SWAT operators in a vehicle training exercise

FBI SWAT teams use vehicles similar to those that local law enforcement SWAT teams use, such as:

  • Specialized vehicles for insertion into tactical situations and for tactical maneuvering while in tricky situations. This includes Humvees, and MRAP, and sometimes the Lenco BearCat.
  • In addition, if the SWAT officers want to avoid detection, they can use a variety of modified/unmarked buses, vans, trucks, or other vehicles that seem normal, such as certain pickups, like the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150/F-250/F-350/F-450, Dodge Ram, certain SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, Ford Expedition, Dodge Durango, certain vans: Ford E Series, Chevrolet Express.

Popular cultureEdit


In the 2010 film The Town, several FBI SWAT personnel take part in a shootout against a group of Boston-based bank robbers during the film’s finale.

In the 1997 film Face/Off, an FBI tactical unit raids the loft of the terrorist, Castor Troy.

Video gamesEdit

In the 2013 video game Payday 2, the FBI SWAT are one of the possible law enforcement groups that players can encounter during a police assault.

In the 2015 video game Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, the FBI SWAT are one of the counter-terrorism units the player can play as. Some of these same FBI SWAT members are available as teammates in the 2019 video game Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and several FBI-themed customization options are available to the player character.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Federal Tactical Teams: Characteristics, Training, Deployments, and Inventory (PDF) (Report). United States Government Accountability Office. September 10, 2020. GAO-20-710. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Botting, James (2008). Bullets, Bombs, and Fast Talk : Twenty-five Years of FBI War Stories. Potomac Books. p. 20. ISBN 9781597972444.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG)". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  4. ^ Coulson, Danny O.; Shannon, Elaine (2001). No Heroes : Inside the FBI's Secret Counter-Terror Force. Pocket Books. p. 109. ISBN 0671020625.
  5. ^ James, Nathan (September 3, 2015). Federal Tactical Teams (Report). Congressional Research Service. CRS Report for Congress, R44179. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  6. ^ "Up Close with an FBI SWAT Team Agent". FBI. 2008-11-17. Retrieved 2011-01-25.
  7. ^ "FBI SWAT Teams Join in Terror Simulation". FBI. 16 September 2005. Archived from the original on January 10, 2008.
  8. ^ "Buffalo FBI". Archived from the original on December 21, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  9. ^ "Our People and Capabilities". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Archived from the original on 7 October 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d "FBI SWAT". American Special Ops. Retrieved 4 March 2011.

External linksEdit