Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S)
The Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) was a privately funded Special Forces Unit made up of former military and law enforcement personnel trained to deal with specialist incidents. This elite group was created in April 1996 and divided into two teams based within the Raccoon City Police Department. Their main duty was to specialise and resolve emergencies too complex for regular police to handle as well as terrorism and organised crime. Although they worked under the employment banner of the R.P.D., they were also able to operate independently and received expensive, specialised equipment thanks to sponsorship from private organisations, including Umbrella Corporation. To begin with, S.T.A.R.S. was an experimental idea for an elitist group trained to respond to the diversifying needs of high-grade criminality, such as cybercrime, with a vast network of troops, new kinds of narcotics and new methods of terrorist attacks utilising bio-chemical weapons.
The unit was eventually created under mayor Michael Warren’s ‘Bright Raccoon 21’ revitalisation city project and had access to advanced equipment and an extensive intelligence network. Because S.T.A.R.S. was funded by private businesses and came under the law enforcement umbrella, it differed from public institutions including the regular police and had its own special recruiting program, different to that of the R.P.D. Candidates had to undergo an intense screening process and recruitment was carried out by a scouting system on a merit basis regardless of sex, age or personal history. In addition, despite the previous working record of most of its members, S.T.A.R.S. was first and foremost a policing organisation and not a military one.
Therefore, investigation skills and advanced first-aid training were more desirable traits for candidates rather than combative skills such as shooting and hand-to-hand combat. In essence, priority was given more to civic relief and the prevention of criminal offences rather than active elimination of offenders and terrorists. The deployment of the S.T.A.R.S. teams was usually reserved for special operations, but specifically, its four main duties were to preserve public order, VIP escort and protection, counter-terrorism, and hostage rescue. For counter-terrorism situations, the S.T.A.R.S.’ resources almost rivalled those of the British Special Air Service (S.A.S.), though unfortunately these abilities were never demonstrated as no large-scale terrorism incidents occurred during the unit’s brief operational service. During operations in S.T.A.R.S., the team’s formation was based on a five man cell (five person formation unit). Since twelve officers were present in S.T.A.R.S., they were divided into two groups, A (Alpha) Team and B (Bravo) Team, and missions were carried out by irregular six man cells. However, it was only a principle and they sometimes held military-like large-scale operations with three sets of two man cells (two person formation of an advance-guard foremost and a sniper).
Following the unit’s inauguration in April 1996, Albert Wesker was made the unit commander at the request of Umbrella Corporation. Wesker had an impressive list of credentials including recent experience as an army tech engineer. Because Umbrella’s funding covered approximately 50% of S.T.A.R.S. operational costs, their recommendation was accepted. Former S.W.A.T. team member Barry Burton joined him and through Barry the likes of Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine and Forest Speyer joined the team.
Before S.T.A.R.S. could become operational, they had to undergo an intensive 18-month training program. This began in April 1996 when Joe Kendo, an ex- S.W.A.T. member from San Francisco, was hired as a trainer to put the S.T.A.R.S. members through their paces until December that year. When his contract as a trainer expired, he was requested to manufacture customised weapons for the team. Joe and his brother Robert ran the famous ‘Kendo Gun Shop’ business they had established in 1984 and had a reputation for making excellent firearms. In addition, Umbrella Corporation also supplied weapons for the S.T.A.R.S. to trial.
Throughout the next year, the S.T.A.R.S.’ continued their rigorous training, taking part in drills, controlled exercises, role-plays, academic testing and recruiting more members until they were finally cleared for active service in December 1997. S.T.A.R.S. soon proved their worth and served the citizens of Raccoon City well. They prevented bank robberies, kidnappings and were involved in siege cases such as drug-addicted patients threatening staff. Soon the unit had achieved an 80% success rate in hostage situations. As time went on these figures were expected to improve as the remaining 20% were down to hostage fatalities before S.T.A.R.S. intervention. One of their most successful cases was preventing an arms transaction between two mafia organisations and the seizure of a quantity of high-grade weaponry, including an Asian-made M202A1 FLASH rocket launcher. They also continued to recruit new members with medic Rebecca Chambers and chemical specialist Kenneth J. Sullivan being late additions to the team.
The standard firearm for S.T.A.R.S. members was the Beretta M92FS which was an Italian-made 9mmX19 calibre large military pistol. Due to its tough structure based on MIL specifications, ease of handling and excellent double action trigger rapid fire characteristics, it became the standard adopted gun for S.T.A.R.S. and many police organisations, including the U.S. Army. But some voices within S.T.A.R.S. felt that the 9mmX19 calibre was inadequate and this led to a redevelopment of the weapon by Joe Kendo, resulting in the Samurai Edge; also known as the Beretta 92F S.T.A.R.S. Special. Team members were also sometimes permitted to carry personal weapons such as Barry favouring his .357 Colt Python. Each member also carried a standard combat knife with an emblazoned S.T.A.R.S. emblem. Each captain’s knife had a gold emblem etched to signify their leadership. For vehicles, the S.T.A.R.S. employed two Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopters for the Alpha and Bravo Teams respectively. They also occasionally utilised the R.P.D.’s AS350B Eurocopter.
Relations between the team members were good and new members were greeted warmly. Richard Aiken was a qualified tutor and was usually tasked with looking after any new rookies. There was a slight tension with Bravo Team leader Enrico Marini who secretly feared Chris Redfield or Barry Burton were plotting to usurp him as the unit’s vice-captain and as Wesker’s main right hand man. Wesker, Chris and Forest Spyer also had a healthy shooting rivalry and often fought for victory in the annual team marksmanship competition.
Each member of the unit wore a different coloured undershirt with the S.T.A.R.S. emblem over the right sleeve and a Kevlar tactical vest suited for each operative’s personal skills. For example, Rebecca’s vest displayed the Red Cross sign and had pouches for first aid supplies, whereas Chris’s vest came equipped with a sheath for his enlarged combat knife. They were allowed to customise their uniforms to some degree such as changing the primary colour. In mid-1998 a new uniform was proposed which was much more professional and would ensure all members wore identical outfits. It consisted of olive drab fatigues and a black tactical vest. Chris Redfield was chosen to trial this uniform but it was never formally adopted following the unit’s demise. But Chris kept the uniform as a memento and wore it during his personal mission to Rockfort Island in tribute to his fallen colleagues.
The S.T.A.R.S. teams met their ultimate match in the summer of 1998 when they were assigned to search for missing hikers in Raccoon Forest and the vast expanse of the Arklay Mountains. Unbeknownst to anyone at that time, they were actually being lured into a trap by their own leader, Albert Wesker, who had secretly been a double agent for Umbrella Corporation all along. Umbrella had ordered him to lure the S.T.A.R.S. members to the mansion and have them engage in battle with the creatures and infected staff to record active combat data for assessing the viability of the mutations as biological weapons. During this disastrous mission, more than half the team were killed, including Wesker who was seemingly slain by the Tyrant T-002. Only Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton, Rebecca Chambers and Brad Vickers made it out alive.
Following the mansion incident, a review was held and although further recruitment was planned, it was agreed substantial organisational restructuring was needed as to whether S.T.A.R.S. would be retained in its current form. In the end, Chief Irons of the Raccoon City Police Department took steps to absorb and dissolve the unit, intending to replace them with an in-house S.W.A.T. team.
5-MAN CELL STRUCTURE:
LDR (Leader): The commander makes tactical operation decisions in the field and is the brains of the cell. The captain and vice-captain are responsible to undertake the duties in S.T.A.R.S.
PM (Point Man): Location scout on the front line during the mission. Reconnaissance and securing the position ahead of time are the main responsibilities. The most resourceful officer often falls in this category.
BUM (Backup Man): Forms a duo with PM for main duty to cover advance guard and takes action in a 2-man cell. The position requires a high level of precision same as PM.
OM (Omni Man): Transporting various types of equipment and the mobilisation of heavy armaments are the main duties of this role. Strategic actions away from the advance guard are also required.
RS (Rear Security): Rear guard such as protection of HQ and helicopter are the main duties as well as sniper cover depending on the mission. There were two RS positions per team.
In addition to the above, it was not uncommon for S.T.A.R.S. missions to second regular R.P.D. personnel. Officer Kevin Dooly often assisted with piloting one of their helicopters.
Albert Wesker: – Alpha Team Captain. A biotechnology specialist and former Army Engineering Officer.
Chris Redfield: – Alpha Team Point Man. A trained pilot and former U.S. Air Force officer.
Jill Valentine: – Alpha Team Rear Security. Skilled in explosive ordinance disposal and trap disarmament.
Barry Burton: – Alpha Team Back-up Man. Extensive firearms knowledge and custom weapons supplier.
Joseph Frost: – Alpha Team Omni-Man. Qualified service technician and hazardous chemical disposal.
Brad Vickers: – Alpha Team Rear Security: Qualified pilot and information processing specialist.
Enrico Marini: – Bravo Team Captain. Skilled in survival techniques and mental strength.
Kenneth J. Sullivan: – Bravo Team Point Man. Ph.D. in Chemistry and chemical weapons specialist.
Richard Aiken: – Bravo Team Back-up Man. Technician and communications specialist.
Forest Speyer: – Bravo Team Omni-Man. Superior marksmanship skills and trained computer hacker.
Edward Dewey: – Bravo Team Rear Security: Trained pilot and superior sniper skills.
Rebecca Chambers: – Bravo Team Rear Security: Medical professional and chemistry specialist.