Tuesday, May 1, 2007


In the early 1980's, I led an A-Team into the swamps of Fort Stewart Georgia. It was an ARTEP (Army Readiness Training Exercise Program) designed to evaluate my teams ability to complete an assigned mission. We are pretending to be in another country helping the local people fight an oppressive government. These tests are VERY important and not taken lightly. Failure means a lot of trouble for a lot of people. It may even cause some people to lose their military careers.

Our final task was to blow up a bridge. I had a twelve man A-Team and two women pretending to be local resistance fighters. We were fourteen people against over 300 OPFOR (Operation Forces). We sent a message to the "enemy" and told them which bridge we were going to destroy and the time and date it would be destroyed. Against overwhelming odds, we destroyed the bridge as scheduled without losing a single member of the team. If we had been willing to die, the task would have been even easier. What is my point? You can not defend against a trained terrorist, especially if he is willing to die.

I just returned from Manila. I went through the "security circus" at the airport with some humor. I had a pair of finger nail clippers confiscated as a "weapon." I give the Philippine security police credit for trying to make this odious hassle as painless as possible. I consider the police to be just as much a victim of these hassles as the passengers. It would be irresponsible of me to list the mistakes or ways to circumvent the system, but trust me, there were and are many.

My "Sen Sei" (teacher) in Special Forces (Green Berets) was a man named Mike Echanis. He literally wrote the book on edged and improvised weapons. He prided himself in being able to turn everyday common items into deadly weapons. As the security policeman took away my "deadly" nail clippers; I counted three truly deadly weapons he carried and did not know about.
My observations are not unique to Philippine airports. Often these almost useless hassles occur around the world in every country. In America I went through several hours of their version of security. Later on the plane, I was given a serrated metal knife with my meal!!! On every plane I have ever flown upon, there are numerous things that can be turned into a weapon. Current security measures will catch the amateur "wannabe" terrorist but the trained terrorist will not be impacted.

When I arrived here in Dumaguete Ciry; I gave my card to the head of airport security. I offered to provide information or training to help make their efforts more effective. Sadly, I do not hold out much hope that I will be asked to help. Because of 500 years of "outsiders" interference and paternal condescension, many Filipinos find "foreigner" attempts to help irritating and insulting, even when we have the best of intentions.

I sympathize with the airport security guards. Nobody likes the airport security hassle, not even them. They are trying to do an almost Herculean task with professionalism, grace and humor. They deserve our support not our anger.

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