A female’s voice came over the public address system at Gate 22, “Qantus Airways flight 750 to Sydney now ready for boarding.”
I turned to Matt Jones and said, “Well, Matt, again, you did an awesome job here.” I paused for a second and then continued, “I’ll see you again in the United States.”
We gave each other a macho style hug, “Yea mate, no worries. We’ll start planning it.”
I then boarded the white and red painted Boeing 737 aircraft and headed home back to Los Angeles. I had just finished my first Level 1 Reality-Based Personal Protection in Adelaide, Australia. In fact, it was my first trip ever to Australia.
Matt Jones, my Reality-Based Personal Protection director for Australia, did an excellent job in advertising, promoting, and organizing the event which was held from February 19 to 23. Students, and 10 instructors that I certified at the end of the week, came literally from the four corners of Australia: a Federal Police officer from the capitol of Canberra, a Muslim from Melbourne (who was a great resource of cultural information in Friday’s Terrorism Survival course), two oil production workers from Western Australia, a security agent from a hospital in Queensland, a banker from Tasmania, and various instructors from Victoria, the Northern Territory, and Southern Australia.
One of the interesting hurdles that Matt had to go over in making our training a success was finding an alternative to air guns, which are used extensively throughout the Level 1 curriculum. In Australia air guns (mechanical or gas operated air guns that fire a plastic 6 mm ball) are considered “firearms” under Australian law (the same device that is considered a “toy” in most countries). Matt was able to find a suitable substitute – a gun similar to air guns, but with a velocity of much less than that of an air gun. So, rather than firing a projectile accurately up to 21 feet it sends it about 11 feet. This was enough to simulate realistic shootings, but without the “bite” that an air gun delivers.
Our Federal Police officer, who had a background as a corrections officer, bodyguard, and foreign police adviser, confirmed that our legal graphs used in the course were accurate and consistent with Australian law. On Friday, after graduation, this instructor came up to me and said, “Jim, this week has contained material that has taken me a lifetime to acquire. It is everything that these civilians need to know, and even I learned a lot of new things.”
My one Muslim instructor said to me, “You are the fairest instructor I have ever heard when it comes to explaining Islam and terrorism. I didn’t feel that you took sides. You stayed neutral. I also thank you for letting me present my views to the class.” Of course, that is exactly what I had hoped he would say. Although I am an American, and I will defend my country up until my last breath, especially in fighting any kind of terrorism, I also know that we cannot label all Muslims as “terrorists.” I have been to a few Middle East countries, and the truth is that the West has many friends in Islamic nations. The current War on Terrorism is a very complex and multi-layered topic. The goal of my Terrorism Survival course is to 1. Teach people how to survive common terrorist attacks though hands-on scenarios 2. Make students more aware of how to spot terrorist activities should they come across it 3. Present the current political-social climate in a non-bias factual manner in order to understand why terrorism is only going to increase over the next decade, and not decrease.
Prior to teaching the five Level 1 courses (Defensive Tactics, Ground Survival, Knife Survival, Crime Survival and Terrorism Survival) Matt and his wife showed me all around Adelaide, and I was played the tourist roll well, trying everything that was a new experience for me. I ate kangaroo, froggies (a desert like cup cake), we visited the South Australia Museum with Australia’s largest collection of Aboriginal art and weapons in the country, and we had a chance how to learn how to throw a boomerang in a park. I also went into the Great Southern Sea, but only up to my knees since there was a Great White Shark warning for the beaches. It was quite a sight. The temperature at the beach was a good 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and very few souls waded out deeper than their knees. Just a week prior to my arrival there was a shark attack where a woman was killed not to far from where I entered the water.
Southern Australia reminded me of Southern California, so it wasn’t much of a culture shock for me. Besides funny accents, and everyone driving on the wrong side of the road, I felt right at home. The Australians are very friendly and polite as a whole, however, Matt took me to some of the rougher neighborhoods so I would have an accurate portrayal of all the cross sections of Australian society. Crime is definitely up in Australia, but it does not seem as much compared to the United States. Of course, Australia has a population of 20,670,000 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) compared to the US population of 300,000,000.
Our first Australian Reality-Based courses were a big success. It will be interesting to see how the system will grow over the next couple of years like it has in the European countries and North America. Matt and I are planning on running two sets of courses next year beginning February 2008. If you are Australian, and would like Reality-Based Personal Protection, contact Matt Jones and avago ya mug (give it a try).
Australia keeps up the fight against terrorism Jim Wagner
While Matt Jones and I were teaching our Level 1 courses in Adelaide, Australia the American Vice President, Dick Cheney, visited Australia to pay tribute to the Australian military for their support in Iraq and Afghanistan. He singled out the elite Special Forces unit SAS (Special Air Service) saying, “The SAS troops are great. We like very much working with the Australians.” He also met with Prime Minister John Howard.
Vice President Cheney emphasized the importance of challenging and defeating Islamic terror, and that the commitment of the United States to this cause would be long term. He also endorsed Senator John McCain’s proposition that “the only thing worse than a military confrontation with Iran would be a nuclear armed Iran.” As a result the United States dispatched another aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf due to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “apocalyptic philosophy” and making “threatening noises about Israel and the United States, and others.”
While I was watching the news daily about Vice President Cheney’s visit, there were several mass anti-war protests. It’s amazing to me that the protesters keep saying “bring our troops home” and “no more war,” but they offer no solutions for the problems in the region. Obviously they are not considering the millions that would be murdered if the coalition troops were to pull out. I guess the lives of the Iraqis are not as important as Australian soldiers’ lives or American soldiers’ lives. Fortunately for the Iraqis the governments of Australia and others continue to train and support the infant Iraqi government. After World War II it took several years to stabilize Germany and Japan, and to this day, over 60 years later, we still have troops there (because now they are close friends and want the US there). Despite the small number of protestors, there was one counter-protester who caught my attention who had a large expensive sign that read THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PEOPLE LIKE DICK CHENEY. WE LOVE AMERICA. For more details on Vice President Cheney’s trip to Australia visit www.theaustralian.com.au
Most of my students in Terrorism Survival agreed that eventually terrorism would hit the shores of Australia. It’s just a matter of time.
Australian citizen was al-Qaida’s “golden boy” Jim Wagner
Australian citizen David Hicks is sitting in Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba right now because he trained with the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tolba in 2000 before heading to Afghanistan in January 2001 for specialized training in guerilla warfare with the al-Qaida terrorist group.
According to British former inmate Feroz Abbasi, Hicks wanted to “go back to Australia and rob and kill Jews” and was willing to undertake a suicide mission – including crashing a plane into a building. Hicks, 31, a former kangaroo skinner and father of two from the northern Adelaide suburb of Salisbury, converted to Islam and was quoted as saying that he wanted to “go out with that last big adrenalin rush.”
Hicks is yet to stand trial under the US military commission process, but attempted murder charges may be pending by US judge Susan Crawford.
Movie Review: Syriana Jim Wagner
While I was waiting for eight hours at the San Francisco International Airport to catch a plane to Sydney I bought the movie Syriana (syrianamovie.com) staring George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Jeffrey Wright. This is a movie I recommend that you buy or rent to all of you involved in the Reality-Based Personal Protection system.
This movie is about the oil business, spies, terrorists, politics and corruption that takes the viewer from Houston to Washington, D.C. to the hot spots of the Middle East. This movie shows a realistic kidnapping (much like we do in our Terrorism Survival course), how a suicide terrorist is recruited, and how your friends become your enemy and the enemy becomes your friend as a Special Agent.
The movie is 128 minutes long and rated R for violence and language. I had wanted to see it when it first came out, made in 2005, but did not get the chance until now.
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