Leading Warriors and Covert Ops

Managing a successful clandestine operation usually requires coordination, information sharing, familiarity with the terrain and, if it involves Islamist counter-terror tactics, an understanding of Muslim friend or foe.

Amaury Murgado Headshot

Chris Ghannam, the CEO of Sark Securities. Photo: Amaury MurgadoChris Ghannam, the CEO of Sark Securities. Photo: Amaury Murgado

Managing a successful clandestine operation usually requires coordination, information sharing, familiarity with the terrain and, if it involves Islamist counter-terror tactics, an understanding of Muslim friends or foes.

The command leadership track at Sark Securities' Southeast Warrior Symposium earlier this year near Orlando, Fla., provided strategies for effectively dealing with each of these elements.

The symposium was led by Chris Ghannam, Sark's chief executive. Ghannam is a dynamic, intense, and highly experienced instructor. His program offered the scholarly command leadership track and the more hands-on warrior track emphasizing combatives and firearms integration.

For the command leadership track, Ghannam assembled a host of internationally recognized experts in the fields of warrior mindset, use-of-force training research, and human behavior under stress. The experts included Alexis Artwohl ("Deadly Force Encounters"), Michael J. Asken ("Warrior Mindset"), and Chris Lawrence of the Force Science Institute.

Michael Sulick, the CIA's former director of clandestine services, spoke about collaboration and intellgence sharing within agencies.

Sulick made it clear that our future depends on integration, partnership, and collaboration. His stressed that the days of interagency rivalry and secrecy need to end to overcome the challenges facing us. Information must be shared at all levels, right down to the last police officer standing.

Another former CIA operative and retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Billy Waugh emphisized patience during clandestine operations. Waugh is an 11-year combat veteran who spent 22 years in the Middle East working for the CIA. Waugh tracked down the international terrorist, Ilich Ramírez Sánchez (a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal). Waugh emphasized that it takes time to develop sources and obtain information. In law enforcement, we've gotten too comfortable walking away from short surveillance missions that yield few results.

Waugh also discussed the crucial factor of area familiarization. You have to know your area of operation inside and out, which takes a great deal of time, study, and preparation. You also have to learn how to blend in. Become part of your area rather than just being in your area. Waugh was one of the operatives who searched for Bin Laden under President Clinton. He used to jog past Bin Laden's compound every day and eventually Bin Laden's security never gave him a second thought.

Chief Jeff Chudwin, a cop's cop from the village of Olympia Fields, Ill., emphasized the importance of in-service training. Anyone who's ever been involved with in-service training knows more people are interested in lunch than in training. Chief Chudwin quoted Heraclitus to make his point:

Out of every 100 men, 10 shouldn't even be there, 80 are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.

The chief's point was simple; we need bodies to fill slots. If they don't want to train, train those who do. Put your effort where you'll get the most return, because those officers are the ones who will be doing the dangerous work anyway. He said, "Not everyone can be a warrior, nor do they want to be." Therefore, train your warriors; hope that they inspire more to join their ranks; and drive on.

In his lecture, "Islam for the Security Professional," Jeffrey Norwitz presented his analysis of the Quran. Norwitz retired from NCIS and has nearly four decades of intelligence experience at the local, state, and federal levels. His presentation was not biased towards the West or the East but instead rooted in historical and scholarly fact. He explained how Islam can profess peace and war (jihad) from the same source.

Norwitz pointed out that the Quran wasn't written historically or chronologically. Rather it was organized by placing the longest passages first until the smallest passages are in the back. The system mixes two time periods in which the Prophet Mohamed wrote the Quran—the first professing peace, the second professing jihad. Moderates place more emphasis on the peaceful segments of the Quran, while fundamentalists adhere to the other. Moderates look at the Quran as a guide, and fundamentalists view the jihad portion of the Quran as a step-by-step playbook demanding strict adherence. The fundamentalist playbook offers three choices for non-believers:

  1. Invite the non-believer in and, if he accepts, accept him with open arms.
  2. If he refuses, he can choose to pay a tax and have everything taken from him. He will be treated as a second-class citizen with no rights.
  3. If he refuses to join or pay a tax, the third choice is death.

Now you can see why an Islamic fundamentalist is so dangerous; there are no negotiations outside of the three choices. Norwitz also explained why the peace-loving moderates don't stand up to the fundamentalists. It turns out, moderates are even more afraid of fundamentalists than anyone else, because they understand what motivates them and what they're capable of.

Amaury Murgado is the special operations lieutenant for the Osceola County Sheriff's Office in Kissimmee, Fla.

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Lieutenant (Ret.)
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