On March 31, 2009 I attended the TREXPO West 2009 Conference in Long Beach, California. Founded in 1990 it was the original first response training conference and exposition for law enforcement, corrections, and federal agencies.
From 0800-1200 hours I took the course titled First Responder’s Guide to Terrorism Detection and Prevention taught by Ed Lovette. He is a retired Central Intelligence Agency paramilitary operations officer and a former Captain in the U.S. Army's Special Forces. In addition to this outstanding background Lovette was also a 10 year law enforcement veteran serving as a patrol officer, sheriff's deputy, and a senior firearms and tactics instructor for the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy.
The first thing Lovette said was, “We can say there is no more ‘War on Terrorism,’ but the bad guys did not get that message.” He was referring to the new American government administration that no longer uses the term “War on Terrorism” or even the word “terrorist.” CLICK HERE for more information.
Lovette went on to teach an excellent two-hour course specifically geared towards how law enforcement officers can detect mannerisms, specific financing crimes, and pre-planning activities prior to a terrorist attack; or the new term man-made disasters
I have been to many anti and counter-terrorism courses over the past decade. Many courses cover the same material over and over. However, with Lovette I walked away with several new pieces of information that I had not heard before.
The next speaker was James Stalnaker of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department who spoke on the characteristics of a terrorist suspect. There was some discussion on a future school attack by terrorists, suicide bombers, and car bombs on American interests.
Finishing the four-hour session was Sergeant Richard Valemar (Ret) of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. He has appeared on many television shows including the Discovery Channel.
“AL QAEDA GANGSTAZ” was what a tagger spray painted on a wall in Los Angeles. This was a photograph that Valdemar showed us to start off his lecture.
When I was down in Argentina training the Argentinean G.O.E. (Special Operations Group) several months before 9/11 the operators told me that they needed the tactical training that I was giving them to fight Middle Eastern terrorists who had moved into South America and were controlling a large part of the drug trade. When I first heard this I was shocked, but over the years the American law enforcement community has become aware of the infiltration of Islamic terrorism into North and South American street gangs, and Valdemar gave one of the best presentations on the subject that I have heard.
Valdemar talked about the Nation of Islam and how that organization stoked the fires of the Los Angeles Riots of 1991; an event that I was in the middle of on the first day. He also talked about how the La Raza gang met with Yasir Arafat in Beruit, how MS-13 met with leaders of Al Qaeda, and how American citizen Jose Padilla, who had plans to detonate a dirty bomb on American soil, was a Chicago Maniac Latin Disciple member who converted to a radical form of Islam.
For the rest of the day, four more hours of training, I was in the High Risk Dignitary Protection course taught by an old friend of mine George Holt.
George was an instructor for the training company that I helped founded back in 1991. He used to be a police SWAT officer for the Los Angeles Housing Authority Police and he was a great instructor, and still is. I first met George back in 1994 when I was invited to teach his SWAT team a course in Defensive Tactics. In 2003 George created his own training company called Solutions Group International based in Los Angeles. January 21, 2003 was also when I founded the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system.
Team teaching with George was Craig Sawyer who is a former U.S. Marine and Navy SEAL, a five-year U.S. Air Marshal (I was an Air Marshal during the same time that he was in), and currently a SGI instructor.
The four-hour course covered Fundamental Skill Sets, Definition of Terms, Basic Equipment Needs, Advanced Planning, and Foot and Vehicle Formations and Movement. They also gave a few good case studies.
The next day, April 2, I listened to the one-hour lecture titled How Evolving Technology Can Affect Tactics, Training and Procedures in the Future given keynote speaker Richard “Mack” Machowicz, host and producer of Discovery Channel’s FUTURE WEAPONS. Before the lecture started I bought his book Unleash the Warrior Within, and I’m glad I did because they quickly sold out of them after the lecture.
Mack is a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Navy SEALs in which he participated in numerous tactical operations with SEAL Team one and Two. He also has 20 years experience in the martial arts studying muay thai boxing, Jeet Kune Do, kickboxing, aikido, jujitsu, savate, arnis, and karate. He is the founder of Bukido Training System and teaches performance philosophy.
Black Belt magazine asked me if I would work in their booth in the exposition section of TREXPO 2009 for the day. A couple of hours into the show someone said that Mack was finishing up signing books. Black Belt editor and I decided to go up and talk to him, and I wanted to have Mack sign the book that I bought. When we got upstairs we were literally the last two in line.
As soon as Mack looked up he stood up and said, “It’s an honor sir!” and shook my hand. Apparently he has been following my Black Belt column HIGH RISK for years and has been a big fan of mine. Of course, I have watched his show Future Weapons and gained a lot of insight into modern warfare from it. Mack then signed my book, and then later he came down to the Black Belt booth where I gave him my book Reality-Based Personal Protection and two of my Jim Wagner Reality Based Blades; the Fixed and the new Urban.
CLICK HERE to see Black Belt magazine's video clip on the new Jim Wagner Reality-Based Blade Fixed.
CLICK HERE to read Black Belt magazine's comments on Mack Machowicz.
After talking with Mack Machowicz I had the honor of meeting World War II hero Ed “Doc” Pepping who was one of the characters in the famous book and HBO series Band of Brothers about the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Easy Company. Peeping was awarded the Bronze Star for his bravery and valor under fire while attempting to rescue a “brother” on June 7, 1944, one day after the D-Day Invasion.
I thanked Pepping for his service to the country and the sacrifice he made four our liberty. To my surprise he thanked me for my involvement with the Army National Guard and said, “We have a fine bunch of National Guard soldiers today who have not got the recognition that they deserve. I want to thank you.”
To talk with a fellow soldier, especially one who was a part of history was a great education. His generation has almost faded away, and I make it a point to get to know the survivors and their experiences as I come across them. I then had Pepping sign a copy of Band of Brothers. He had a special edition that had photos of him attached to pages throughout the book, his unit patch, a small bag of sand from Utah Beach, Normandy (we lost 4,000 soldiers on this beach in the first two hours of the battle), and a band aid that had Pepping’s own hand drawn logo “B/B” meaning band aid bandit.
While working in the Black Belt booth I had the opportunity to see other vendors who were demonstrating their law enforcement related products. Ti Training ran me through their new interactive, use-of-force 3-D training simulator. If you have ever seen a 3-D movie before this is just like one except much clearer and more realistic.
I then had hand-on training with the Recon Scout IR manufactured by Recon Robotics thanks to Lauren Wiesner. This tough little surveillance robot can be tossed into a room and then controlled remotely sending back images of the room. It runs for around $9,000 a unit, but for a tactical team it is worth it.
On Thursday, April 2, I attended the lecture A Brief History of Radical Islam presented by Ebrahim Ashabi of the Long Beach Police Department Office of Counter-terrorism. Ashabi was born in Iran as a Shiite Muslim. He lived through the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1978-79 and the Iran-Iraq War. In 1982 he fled across the Iranian border into the Kurdish area of Northern Iraq and then escaped into Turkey. After become a United States citizen he became a police officer.
Although I am very familiar with Islamic history Ashabi gave an insightful presentation where I gleaned some new information, not to mention how humorous this detective can be. He is hilarious, but also very serious about the subject matter.
From 1500 to 1700 hours I took the QuikClot Hemostatic Agent TRAIN THE TRAINER course. This course covered the use of QuikClot for military, law enforcement, EMS and OTC versions of their products. I enjoyed the course because we got to have hands-on training on a mannequin with various lacerations, puncture wounds, and gunshot wounds. Completing this course earned me an instructor certificate good for three years.
I also had a chance to train on the new SWAT-Tourniquet which is very easy to use. This tourniquet was designed by a former Operator/Medic specifically for military and SWAT teams. I also retrained on the C-A-T (Combat-Application-Tourniquet), which is the 1st choice of the U.S. Army, the Army Surgeon General, and the Army Institute of Surgical Research.
The QuikClot course was taught by Bob Huebner of Z-Medica Corporation, and he did a fabulous job. Lots of handouts were given as well as actual products. The next day, with permission from my First Sergeant, I gave a course to our soldiers in my Military Police unit and advised all of them to carry a 50g or 100g Advanced Clotting Sponge in one of their Army Combat Uniform pant cargo pocket at all times. Some of the soldiers joked that I sounded like a “commercial for QuikClot,” but it is simply a product I highly believe in, and I have been carrying their products with me on every trip I go on since 2003. It is also a product accepted by every branch of the Armed Forces of the United States.
Shooting the newest weapons Jim Wagner
As part of the TREXPO 2009 I had the opportunity to go down to the Long Beach Police Department Range and fire some of latest weapons from gun manufacturers that were represented and test other pieces of equipment.
The first weapon I fired was the new SIG556 made by SIG SAUER (Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellshaft – Swiss Industrial Company); a Swiss company that has a U.S. division called SIGARMS coming to our shores in 1985.
The SIG556 is a semi-automatic and select fire law enforcement and military restricted assault rifle. It fires 5.56 x 45mm NATO ammo and comes with optional accessories. The weapon was easy to handle and with virtually no recoil. It felt very comfortable.
The next weapon I practiced with was the new SIG SAUER P250. When I was a United States Federal Air Marshal in 2002 my assigned pistol was the SIG SAUER P226 which I liked very much and qualified as EXPERT at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) at Artesia, New Mexico. Since then SIG SAUER has worked to have their latest pistol with fewer parts than their traditional ones.
The P250 is quite revolutionary in that it is the world’s first modular handgun system. A modular system means that an immediate change for caliber and size; subcompact, compact, or full without compromising functionality, accuracy, and reliability.
Just like my old federal P226 I immediately took to the new P250. I fired the compact modular version and had a tight group at 15 yards using double taps.
I then went over to the GLOCK representatives and fired the GLOCK 36, which is a .45 Auto compact where the magazine stacks the ammo in a single row to keep the weapon slim. I liked the two-tone color of a black slide and an Olive Drab receiver, which is only available in the United States. I also tried out the GLOCK 37, which is the full size version.
Next I went over to the Smith & Wesson boys and put a few rounds through their new M&P 45. It handled well will be a good competitor to the other makers.
Copyright Jim Wagner 2003 - 2021 All rights reserved.