By Angela French
The Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Office of Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) held its second annual SPEAR Summit Challenge, a five-day tactical law enforcement training and competition for U.S.-trained Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response (SPEAR) teams from across Africa. The 2019 challenge took place at the ATA Regional Tactical Training Center in Thiès, Senegal, Dec. 2-6, and included SPEAR teams from Burkina Faso, Chad, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Tunisia, and South Sudan. Although Senegal does not currently have a SPEAR team, law enforcement officers from its National Police and Gendarmerie participated in the competition.
After a week of hard skills training and competition that included firearms proficiency, tactical medicine, personnel recovery and evacuation, and explosives incident identification and response, Team Tunisia was named the victor of the 2019 SPEAR Summit Challenge.
“The SPEAR Summit Challenge highlighted the capacity, and more importantly, the culture we strive to build in our programs,” said DSS Special Agent and SPEAR Program Manager Bill Powers. “In 2020, we will use lessons learned to further build capacity to support the secure implementation of U.S. foreign policy along with increasing preparedness to expand to new countries where SPEAR will further the Department [of State’s] strategic interests.”
Established in 2014, SPEAR provides training to specially selected law enforcement officers in participating host nations. SPEAR teams enhance security at high-threat, high-risk U.S. diplomatic posts and are trained to respond to emergencies involving U.S. diplomatic facilities or personnel within minutes. The DSS ATA currently supports and trains SPEAR teams in 13 countries.
To see more photos of the 2019 SPEAR Summit Challenge, visit the DSS Flickr site.
Angela French is a public affairs specialist with the Diplomatic Security Service.