TREXPO West 2006: War Stories

It would have been difficult to find two TREXPO West keynote speakers who complemented each other in their message better than Kelly McCann and Col. Danny McKnight.

David Griffith 2017 Headshot

It would have been difficult to find two TREXPO West keynote speakers who complemented each other in their message better than Kelly McCann and Col. Danny McKnight.

McCann, senior vice president of Kroll Security Operations, and co-presenter Eric Weinberg, managing partner of Homeland Solutions, gave a presentation that amounted to an intelligence briefing. McKnight, who commanded U.S. Army Rangers in Somalia during the infamous "Black Hawk Down" raid, told of his personal experience leading men in battle against terrorists and imparted leadership lessons.

While McCann and Weinberg's presentation focused some on the big picture of the war against terrorism and the motivations and mindset of the enemy, it also explained the role of local law enforcement in protecting the homeland against the terrorist threat. "The chances of one of you making an arrest of a terrorist operating in the United States that yields intelligence in the form of pocket litter is very high," McCann told the audience of mostly Southern California SWAT officers.

McCann, who has produced numerous police tactics videos under the pseudonym "Jim Grover," minced no words about the dangers faced by local law enforcement when dealing with terrorists and terrorist attacks. "Terrorists are all about sudden violence," he said. "But you get very little training in how to respond to sudden violence. And you need that training."

According to McCann, anti-terrorist training should be given to all patrol officers because they are the most likely to notice a terrorist operation in its early stages. "All officers should have training in how to recognize a terrorist operation. You should know how to spot targeting behaviors, surveillance behaviors, probe and test behaviors, and predicate behaviors," he said.

McCann's co-presenter Weinberg explained the importance of predicate crimes in funding terrorist operations and providing terrorists with cover. He gave examples of criminal enterprises terrorists have used in the United States, including drug manufacture, distribution, and sale; cigarette smuggling; gambling; worker's comp fraud; food stamp fraud; welfare fraud; and even one elaborate scam that involved setting up a fake Muslim charter school and siphoning away state education funds.

Both McCann and Weinberg stressed that local law enforcement needs to exploit anti-terrorist intelligence and not depend on the federal government to do it. For example, Weinberg told the audience that suspect Arabic documents should be translated locally before they are turned over to the feds because of the huge backlog of untranslated Arabic documents held by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

McCann summed up the keynote with the following warning to law enforcement officers nationwide: "You are the guys on the pointy end. If you don't figure it out ahead of time, you're going to be in trouble."

The McCann-Weinberg presentation was enlightening and sobering. Danny McKnight's presentation was personal and passionate.

McKnight opened his keynote address by talking about the new mission that he has undertaken now that he is retired from the Army. "My mission is to travel around the country and speak to those people who don't get it," he said.

The "It" McKnight was referring to was the cost of freedom. "The ultimate price that people pay for freedom is something that every American needs to understand." McKnight understands it very well. He commanded the Ranger convoy in Mogadishu, was wounded in combat, and was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions in the battle.

Another thing that McKnight understands very well is the cost of bad leadership. He says that poor leadership and even poorer decisions by President Clinton and his administration led to the desperate firefight in the streets of Mogadishu that claimed the lives of 18 American soldiers.

McKnight is writing a soon-to-be-published book on leadership. He plans to send an autographed copy to his former commander in chief.

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