Jim Wagner’s martial arts training inevitably led him to become interested in the world of Special Operations. He recalls, “In 1984 I read a book about terrorism titled The War Against the Terrorists by Gayle Rivers. I was fascinated not only with the various terrorist organizations wreaking havoc around the world at the time, but I was equally fascinated with the counterterrorist teams that were tasked to confront them. I was awed by the weapons that these teams toted, the high tech equipment they used, and the pure intensity of the conflicts between “good and evil.” Even though I was not in the field of law enforcement at the time when I read this book, I was definitely a martial artist with a heightened awareness of fighting systems more advanced than the ones that I had studied, and I made it a point to get my hands on other books dealing with counterterrorism and Special Operations teams.”
Little did Jim realize at the time, but eventually his dreams would be fulfilled. On March 11, 1994 Officer Jim Wagner would be selected for the Costa Mesa Police SWAT Team, and then become one of the most cross trained members on the team.
At the same time he and three other police officers founded the training organization called Hike Stalk Shoot which later was renamed HSS International. What started out as a “sniper club” grew to become and international training organization training law enforcement, corrections, probation, and military units. Jim personally created all of the company’s defensive tactics programs, the entry level sniper program, and spearheaded the maritime operations training. In just a few short years Jim’s instructions were in demand all around the world. Those units hosting Jim include: FBI SWAT, German counterterrorist team GSG9, DEA, Brazilian GATE, Argentinean GOE, Escambia Sheriff’s Department SWAT (Florida), Rosarito Grupo Especial (Mexico), U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard Boarding Teams and Sea Marshals, Spanish Diplomatic Protective Services, Israeli Special Forces, London Metropolitan Police TSG, North Miami SWAT (Florida), California Department of Corrections SRT, U.S. Air Force Security Forces, U.S. Army Military Police SWAT, Lake County Sheriff’s Department SWAT (Indiana), U.S. Marshals Service Special Operations Group and Fugitive Task Forces (San Diego, Dallas, Washington D.C.), Los Angeles Airport Police, Skagit County Sheriff’s Department Cell Extraction Team (Washington), British Columbia Sheriff’s Department (Canada), Los Angeles County Probation Department, United States Probation Office, San Diego Sheriff’s Department Prisoner Transport Unit, Vancouver Police SWAT (Oregon), U.S. Marines Provost Marshal Office (PMO) and Special Response Team (SRT), Department of Defense Police, U.S. Navy PMO, Los Angeles School Police SWAT, and the list goes on.
As much as Jim Wagner taught these elite units he also learned from them. As a chief instructor of HSS International, and a member of the Board of Directors, Jim also attended many courses as a student to expand his own tactical skills. Courses include a lot of training with the United States Marines at Camp Pendleton, California, which included Military Operations Urban Terrain (MOUT) training, Helicopter Rope Suspension Training (HRST), Range Safety Officer (RSO), and Scout/Sniper training with the 1st Marine Division Sniper School who lived and breathed the motto One Shot, One Kill.
In 1999 Jim Wagner started teaching full-time and joined the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, America’s fifth largest sheriff’s department as a Reserve deputy. In just a few short months he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and made a Team Leader for the newly formed Dignitary Protection Unit (DPU). This elite team was formed per the orders of Sheriff Michael Corona, “America’s Sheriff” according to President George W. Bush, and tasked with protecting celebrities, diplomats, and the Sheriff himself.
On September 11, 2001 Islamic terrorists attacked the United States, and the next day Sergeant Jim Wagner was assigned to anti-terrorism duties with his department. His first assignment was to run the main check point for John Wayne Airport of Orange County. He was one of the few law enforcement officers in the region that had been trained to identify Arab terrorists. He was familiar with the latest tactics they were using because of the training he had received in Israel only a few months prior to the attacks.
Although Jim Wagner was thrilled to do anti-terrorism work and train elite teams, he wanted to be on the front lines on the War on Terrorism. The United States government was scouring the country for anyone qualified and up to the task. Jim was selected as an agent for the United States Federal Air Marshal Service. He was flown to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) headquarters in New Jersey for the initial training, and then out in the middle of the desert to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Artesia, New Mexico for the primary training. This was exactly what Jim had signed up for: weapons training, surveillance techniques, explosives training, Defensive Tactics, and lots of firearms training.
Upon graduation Jim Wagner was officially a part of Operation Enduring Freedom and assigned to the Los Angeles Field Office, which operated mostly out of Los Angeles International Airport. As a United States Federal Air Marshal (FAM) Jim participated in 146 counterterrorist missions doing everything from surveillance of the nation’s airports, finding weaknesses in the aviation security system, to flying on all of the major American carriers. On one mission Jim arrested a suspected terrorist while the aircraft was still on the ground. The fully loaded passenger aircraft was scheduled to fly to Washington D.C. Two hours later the FBI picked him up. Jim searched the Middle Eastern man’s briefcase in the jetway. Inside it contained nuclear information inside.
For more information on Jim Wagner training GSG9, Germany's top counterterrorist team CLICK HERE.
On September 11, 2002 Agent Jim Wagner resigned from the Federal Air Marshal Service and resumed his duties at HSS International. He again taught Special Operations teams at home and abroad.
On January 21, 2003 Jim Wagner started his own company and created his own “all inclusive” self-defense system called Reality-Based Personal Protection system. Although a system primarily designed for civilians, many Special Operations operators have enrolled themselves in the courses, and a fair number of units have invited Jim to teach at their locations.
Jim Wagner’s many DVDs and books are ordered by Special Operations operators and units around the world.
This section is dedicated to displaying various photos, documents, and videos in connection with Jim Wagner’s involvement in the Special Operations community