The boy's rescue was carried out by the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, which serves as the agency's full-time counterterrorism unit, FBI agent Jason Pack said Wednesday. Trained in military tactics and outfitted with combat-style gear and weapons, the group was formed 30 years ago in preparation for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Composed of FBI agents, some of whom have prior military experience, the team is deployed quickly to trouble spots and provides assistance to local FBI offices during hostage situations. It has participated in hostage situations more than 800 times in the United States and elsewhere since 1983, the FBI said.
"As an elite counterterrorism tactical team for law enforcement, the HRT is one of the best, if not the best, in the United States," Sean Joyce, deputy FBI director, said in a statement.
The FBI also brought out an array of military-style equipment including armored personnel carriers and combat rifles. Drones also flew large, lazy circles overhead.
According to a U.S. official, about a dozen Navy Seabees in special naval construction unit helped authorities build a mock-up of the bunker to plan the FBI assault. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the rescue effort, spoke on condition of anonymity.
"This was a classic, textbook situation," said Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI negotiator who worked with the hostage rescue team repeatedly before retiring in 1995.
Building a replica of Dykes' bunker, practicing an assault, negotiating Dykes into a sense of security and even sneaking a camera into the shelter are all part of the agency's tools, said Van Zandt.
"This is what negotiators and team members train to do all the time," added Van Zandt, president of Van Zandt Associates, Inc., a Virginia-based company that profiles and assesses threats for corporate clients. "To me, there was nothing unique in this other than it played out in front of the world."