Friday, August 29, 2008

My Other Blog

I write another weblog. In fact, lately, I've been writing that one more. Check it out. It's over on the left under Aviation Security.

My Motivational Blogs

If you're new to my blog, please read this, this, and this, and finally this. These are a few blogs that will get you revved up and motivated. At least, that's the hope.

McCain's Veep Pick

The GOP just blew the race for the Whitehouse. Let's see if I'm right come November 5th.

In an attempt to make up for what he lacks, charisma and spunk, or conversely what the Dems had with a minority and what the GOP lacked, he went overboard with the lady governor from Alaska. Who is she?

This might be a race closer than Gore's Florida gig. Then again, the Dems might just win it by a landslide. Either way, I think the Republicans just sank the ship. I'd like to hear the reasons why the pundits and strategists gave him that advice. Likewise, it would have been nice to have been in the meetings just prior to the big changes at Blockbuster video in the final quarter of 2006 when the CEO decided to compete with Netflix and do away with late fees. Any Joe Average could have told him those astronomical fees were Blockbuster's bread and butter. I could have told him!

And, what was the result? Millions upon millions of dollars in lost profit the first quarter of 2007, after the failed plan was implemented. Blockbuster video lost more money at that time than it ever had in its history.

So, what's the moral to the story?

First, sometimes change isn't good. Too often, I've witnessed new directors who want to leave their mark, but they do it the wrong way.

And secondly, too often there are sycophants (a.k.a. 'yes men') who'll agree with the dumb ideas their bosses impart just to get ahead.

Henry Ford said the secret of his success was that he surrounded himself with men more talented than himself...and he listened to them!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


One of my best friends just got orders to go back to Iraq. He already served a tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and is 60 percent disabled. He got off Active Duty Regular Army almost two years ago so he could live a normal life again.

While making ends meet and waiting for his job offer to start working for the Department of State with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security Services, he lived away from his wife and daughter out of necessity. He is currently in training with the State Department and nearly finished.

His family is not allowed at training, which takes place in a couple of different states. So far, he's been separated from them since July 2007. He also went into the Inactive Reserve status or, as it's called now, the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) after leaving active duty. Last week he received a notice to report in September to go to Iraq with an Army Reserve unit, prior to graduating with his classmates or being stationed with the State Department in Miami.

When he told his wife over the phone that he had gotten orders to Iraq, she collapsed in tears. His daughter has a calendar marking down the days so when her daddy gets home he can take her to Disney World like he promised. Now, he can't. He'll be gone another year, at least.

He's not afraid to serve. He's willing to serve. He told me, "Just allow me to at least be a father and a husband least for a little bit." He begs some time to spend with his family. I wish he didn't have to go at all.

If I hadn't gone through it myself, I wouldn't be writing this. Having experienced the pain, I can't help but write about it. Not many people know what it's like, but I now have first-hand knowledge.

My friend was told there are three more IRR-scheduled mobilizations over the next few months. This affects many, many lives and yet we rarely take the time to think about it.

Sad News

I learned a soldier I had worked closely with in Iraq was killed this last week in an automobile accident. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

...He was so young.

There's pathetic irony to live through war and drive the dangerous roads of Iraq only to die on the roadways in America. I've written about such things before here and in a moving story here.

Police Humor

Why did the police officer go to bed?

Because he was an undercover cop.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Kill Bin Laden -- A New Book

A new tell-all exposé reveals how senior politicians and military commanders incompetently ran operations to capture or kill Bin Laden.

The furor of American patriotism ran deep in the aftermath of the crumbling World Trade Center tower wreckage. Usama bin Laden sat in his Afghanistan cave smiling at the news. 3,000 killed, the Pentagon destroyed, United 93 evaporated, and two more planes smashed into lower Manhattan. While you and I watched news footage in disbelief and purchased American flags, there were others who went searching for the man responsible.

Dalton Fury led the way. His book, Kill Bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander's Account of the Hunt for the World's Most Wanted Man, by St. Martin's Press will be released in October.

The following information is given on the book's website:

In late November 2001 forty members of the U.S. Army's super secret counterterrorist unit known as Delta Force were sent to the Tora Bora Mountains in eastern Afghanistan to kill terrorist mastermind Usama bin Laden.

These Delta operators linked up with a handful of CIA operatives, Army Green Berets, British Commandos, Air Force Combat Controllers, and a few Tactical Signal Collectors to lead a small army of Afghan Muhjahideen against bin Laden and a thousand or so of his most dedicated al Qaeda fighters.

Do you have something to ask the author? Well, now is your chance to ask the retired senior Delta Force commander a question. Email your question to:

He'll compile a list of the top ten at the end of each month and post them on the book's website along with his answers. If your question is chosen, he'll place your name on a piece of paper and put it in one of the boots he wore in Tora Bora. Once a month, from June through September, he'll randomly draw a name. The four winners will receive a signed copy of Kill Bin Laden.

Finally, I’ve heard it straight from the mouths of other Delta Force operators how much they loathe Eric Haney, a former Delta operator who went public and wrote Inside Delta Force: The Story of America’s Elite Counterterrorism Unit. The TV series The Unit is based on Eric’s book and he serves as its tactical consultant.

With all the personal struggles Dalton must have faced and with some of his personal contacts who have blacklisted him (or who will), I’d rather take a kinder approach and say, “Good for you, brother. Your decision took A LOT of courage."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Ethos and Skill of Killing

You don't need to be or become evil to combat evil. It goes against laws of life and living to, for example, be amoral or immoral to stop immorality. No principle of civility gives way to uncivil manners or unprincipled precepts. It is impossible to be bad and good at the same time.

Or is it?

There is some bad in each of us. We all fall short of perfection; no one is perfect. There was only One who was perfect. But each of us can maintain perfection in certain aspects of our lives. For the modern-day warrior – those in military, law enforcement or private security – the question arises do I have to be bad to stop bad?

I again refer to my initial sentence: You don't need to be or become evil to combat evil.

A few years ago I published an article with that gained wide attention, and I even had a friend mention what I had written there yesterday after we went shooting. I believe it struck a chord with those who carry weapons for a living. I titled it, "The ethos and skill of killing." I will include it here for the reader with a few minor changes. Here it is. Enjoy.

At the tactical level you and I have had to make the conscious decision to kill, if necessary, in order to preserve life. A close friend of mine, Matthew Graham who owns and who invented the Combat Loop and Graham shooting Method for low-light shooting, created this profound statement. He likes to say something to the effect of, “The more effective you are at taking a life, the more successful you’ll be at saving lives.”

Saving lives is, after all, the purpose of special ops.

Moral Justification

It is interesting to note that the motto of the U.S. Army Special Forces is De Oppresso Liber, or to liberate (or free) the oppressed; the U.S. Air Force special operations Pararescue jumper’s (PJs) motto is “That Others May Live”; and the motto of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team is Servare Vitas, Latin for “To Save Lives.” These mottos denote selfless service and love for mankind.

At the recent SWAT Digest Counter Terrorism conference held in July 2006, dynamic speaker Dr. Jason Winkle spoke, in part, on the moral and psychological justifications warriors need in order to win deadly force confrontations. Often the important aspect of religious or spiritual justification is not taken into the equation or it is meshed with the moral theory of “just war” or jus ad bellum. Warriors with a Judeo-Christian or otherwise “civil” heritage need not abandon the tenants of their faith.

Years ago at a military training exercise an Army Ranger told a group of us to “murder” all of the role players. At the right moment, I took the opportunity to confront his choice of words.

There is a serious difference between killing and murdering—not only legally, but religiously. Literally translated, the word for “kill” in the commandment Thou shalt not kill is the Hebrew word ratsach. Ratsach means to dash to pieces or kill, especially murder.

When I lived and worked in Israel long after that experience I didn’t learn Hebrew, but I did learn that there were other words for kill or put to death in the Torah and Old Testament, like katal or muwth. Yet these words were not used in the sixth commandment.

I believe that modern-day warriors, like those civilly and morally religious warriors of old, can have charity—or pure love in our hearts—and still act properly in the position of our duties. Although we despise the many actions of criminals and terrorists, we do not need to hate them personally, even against those persons who we may use deadly force to stop.

Dangerous Hesitation

There is a tacitly dangerous feeling that pervades among law enforcement, the criminal justice system and the civilian population. We too often feel obliged to get seriously injured or have innocent people die before we feel fully justified to use deadly force. It is often legally and tactically unnecessary to pause or hesitate. This is dangerous. It is precarious. It is foolish and it could get us killed.

This philosophy of waiting beyond the last second—beyond the point of being justified legally and tactically—will turn potential winners into losers. And winning and losing here could be the difference between living and dying.

A friend of mine who spent many years in the German Spezialeinsatzkommando, SEK for short, told me several years ago about a pivotal moment in his life and career. His police special operations team responded to a barricaded situation in which the male suspect murdered his wife and dragged her bloodied, lifeless body into the basement. My friend, Thomas (I’m choosing to leave out his last name), was chosen by his team leader to take the shield/bunker, walk down the slippery blood-bathed wooden stairs and apprehend the suspect.

As he turned the corner at the bottom of the basement, Thomas saw the suspect holding a pistol to his own head. As Thomas walked toward the suspect, the man turned his gun and fired at my friend. Thomas instinctively fired back. Both of them missed. The suspect was apprehended after the veteran German tactical officer slammed the shield into him and wrestled him to the floor.

As Thomas told me the story I could tell that he had rehearsed the possibilities of what could have been a disastrous, fatal ending. The suspect, for instance, could have shot Thomas’ legs or exposed arm. Worst of all the suspect could have very easily wrapped his arm around the bunker and shot my friend.

Thomas rued his actions. He told me with all seriousness that next time he would not miss. I took it to mean that if he was ever presented with a similar situation, the suspect would receive multiple—and I would add, justifiable—lethal injuries.

Usually we come close to dying before we really decide to kill. We get lucky and live. We think next time I won’t hesitate or next time I’ll be more aggressive. What we fail to put into the equation is that there may not be an alibi. We may only have one chance to get it right. All of our training and experience boils down to a split-second decision that will undoubtedly come when we least expect it.
The more experience we gain, the less willing we are to take chances. But it doesn’t have to be that way. From the moment of tactical infancy to warrior adolescence we can make up our minds who will win the fight and how it will be won.

Self-Introspection and Preparation

We shouldn’t necessarily be eager to fight. Those who long for confrontation invite trouble. But we should be morally, tactically and psychologically ready for a deadly force situation. We must know the use of force well. We must be prepared, and this may mean combating any religious, spiritual, moral or psychological qualms about justifiable killing. We won’t have time to decide whether or not to use deadly force when that fateful moment comes.

Self-introspection and serious soul-searching should begin long before the police academy, but still there are too many officers who have rarely, if ever, gone there frequently enough. This cannot be avoided if an officer expects to win a deadly force confrontation. If we are not 100 percent ready and willing to kill—to aggressively use deadly force when warranted—then we are a danger to ourselves, our partners, our teammates and the community.

Societies’ protectors, regardless of individual religious beliefs, need to get prepared psychologically, emotionally, and morally in order to help win up-close deadly force encounters. This development, I believe, may also help those who get into a deadly force confrontation to function well socially and emotionally thereafter.

Ensure that you are more lethal than your enemy. (Note: He’s not an “opponent” if he’s bent on killing you.) Act with controlled aggression and violence of action. Believe in winning long before the “test”. (To achieve we must first believe.)

Finally, going back to the Counter Terrorism conference, John Giduck, author of Terror at Beslan, said that the motto of the Russian special forces group, Alpha, was: “If not me, then who?”

You are the warriors. We need you. You have what it takes. No one can take your place personally, and very few have what it takes to get and keep a job in law enforcement. You have the capacity to kill, if necessary, in order to save lives. Learn about it. Think about it. Prepare for it. Or it will prepare for you.