Course builds self-defense for living overseas

By Maj. Mackenzie DealJanuary 6, 2022

A soldier participates in the FACT course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
A soldier participates in the FACT course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Rachel Deloach) VIEW ORIGINAL

After the horrific 2012 Benghazi attack, the Department of State developed the Foreign Affairs Counter Threat course to provide individuals living and working overseas with additional security awareness and training.

This training is intended to help them navigate the safety challenges of living abroad. The FACT course has gone through several changes since its inception and has currently been updated by the Fort-Bragg-based Security Assistance Training Management Organization.

“SATMO continues to facilitate in-processing and conduct in-country awareness briefs, self-defense, and medical care and prevention classes,” SATMO unit public affairs representative Maj. Mackenzie Deal said. “In the areas of vehicle dynamics, weapons and medical training, we have coordinated with a government contractor to offer those training blocks under SATMO supervision.”

Deal called the combined effort a win-win as SATMO Soldiers are freed up to conduct critical foreign affairs missions abroad while the contractor is better logistically situated to provide some blocks of instruction.

“The contractor’s training center is able to support the courses’ learning objectives in one location with standardized equipment,” Deal said, “and the government contract provides more resources to students.”

The only course of its kind in the Army, the weeklong FACT provides participants with the skills and practical knowledge to recognize, avoid, and respond to the most common and deadly threats they may encounter during overseas assignments. Students gain experience in risk management, planning, security awareness, surveillance detection, personnel recovery, tactical medicine, weapons, self-defense and driving. SATMO personnel who will serve abroad on official duty for 90 cumulative days or more are required to take the course.

Deal said SATMO and the government contractor will continue to work closely together on the joint training, conducting after-action-reviews following the completion of each course.

The course will be amended as needed to maintain regulatory compliance, and in January, the State Department will conduct its annual review of the training.

“The State Department and SATMO takes this training very seriously. We know that the quality of pre-deployment training is tied to survivability,” Deal said. “It’s our responsibility to ensure that when our Soldiers are serving abroad, they are equipped with the best training and support available. The FACT course is one of the ways we accomplish that.”