SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - If you're a fan of the CBS television show NCIS, you’ve probably heard of the REACT team. Some of the members of the Regional Enforcement Action Capabilities Team are based locally at Camp Pendleton.
Four times a year, REACT team agents gather for training in Austin, Texas. It's more than just a tactical drill.
The five-day training session is really a requalification test. Agents need to pass the test in order to keep their place on the elite, 43-member team.
“The standards are pretty high and they're unwavering,” said Gerry Arena, the REACT team commander.
“We have to make sure that we provide our folks with the absolute best training that's available so when a critical incident happens and you have zero time to think and react, it's instinctual,” said Arena.
Our sister station, WUSA in Washington, DC, was the first TV news outlet ever invited inside the Texas training center.
REACT was formed three and a half years ago in the wake of the deadly Washington Navy Yard mass shooting. Twelve people died after a civilian contractor went on an active shooting spree.
REACT is like a police swat team that responds to hostage situations and active shooting attacks on military bases.The team also serves arrest and search warrants associated with NCIS investigations.
Members pass on the training learned in Texas to other NCIS agents in the field.
“Four or five REACT guys could go to Camp Pendleton with non-react guys who have had the training that we provide to them; and we could go and execute a search warrant and still be on the same page,” said REACT team member Rob Smith.
NCIS said they currently have eight react agents assigned to Southern California, including some stationed at Camp Pendleton.
The Navy hopes to expand REACT to 50 agents with three divisions nationwide.
“Having in-house capability on our own definitely helps moral and it helps the agency overall,” said David Glasish, a REACT team member.
REACTiswell known because of the hit show NCIS. But the real-life REACT team conducts some of the most dangerous missions associated with crime fighting in the Navy.
“I think they're better prepared today than they were three and a half years ago,” said Arena, the REACT commander.
Some of the team members worked for policeswat teams before joining NCIS.
If you want more information and access to bonus video, it’s posted on the WUSA web site.