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Ex-Air Marshall:Air Marshall Training a National Disgrace

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Winchester 73, Apr 17, 2008.

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  1. Winchester 73

    Winchester 73 member

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    From the Castro News Network, so veracity cannot be determined.
    CNN is investigating.John Kerry and Sheila Jackson Lee are questioning.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/16/griffin.marshal.training/index.html

    By Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston
    CNN Special Investigations Unit

    SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- Their mission is to protect airline passengers from acts of terror on U.S. flights. But in a special investigation, former and current air marshals told CNN that the number of marshals assigned to police flights is so low that the federal agency overseeing them has drastically lowered its firearms and psychological testing standards just so it can qualify new hires.

    More than a dozen current and former marshals said that so many federal air marshals have resigned and are not being replaced, airport screeners are being employed to fill the dwindling ranks.

    But the Transportation Security Administration says that's not true and that the rate of those leaving has remained at 6.5 percent a year since 2001.

    A former federal air marshal and weapons trainer who left the agency in 2006 after four years of service said the situation was so bad that managers at his office fudged the numbers by assigning marshals to short, no-risk flights.

    The former marshal said that was done to make it appear that the percentage of manned flights was higher than it really was.

    "I think it's a national disgrace,'' said the former marshal, who asked not to be identified because he still works in law enforcement.
    The Federal Air Marshal Service was greatly expanded in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, when flights to "high-risk cities" such as New York were given special air marshal manpower priority.

    Assignments are "intelligence-driven" and "risk-based," the Federal Air Marshal Service said in an e-mail. But many of the marshals interviewed said it had little to do with intelligence or risk and was more about a numbers game.

    "We were questioning how these flights could be intelligence-driven when we were flying from San Diego to Phoenix on another leg to Las Vegas back to Phoenix back to San Diego," the former marshal said. "It's not a threat flying on Southwest Airlines to Las Vegas."

    Faced with fewer qualified applicants, current air marshals said that recruiting standards have been lowered. Air marshals still patrolling flights also said the loss of so many experienced agents has led the TSA to hire airport screeners as air marshals.

    Agency spokesman Greg Alter said in an e-mail that only "a very small number of air marshals started their careers as Transportation Security Officers [airport screeners]."

    Alter added that all "candidates receive the best training available and enter the workforce with the skill and expertise needed to protect the traveling public."

    In July 2006, the Federal Air Marshal Service sent out a memo saying that new hires would no longer face mandatory psychological testing, unless the recruit admits that he or she has been treated for a mental condition.

    TSA said it revised but did not "degrade" the psychological testing of applicants using the application and interaction with others in the service to determine mental competency.

    On firearms training, a former weapons instructor with air marshals said that when recruits could not pass the tough federal tactical pistol course, known as the TPC, it was replaced with a less rigorous shooting test the potential recruits could pass.

    "The TPC went away very quickly because they couldn't get enough people through it to pass," the former air marshal trainer said. "So they dropped the tactical pistol course and went to the practical pistol course, which is a standard federal law enforcement course. It's not nearly as quick or as dynamic as TPC."

    But the TSA disputes the claim, saying it altered the weapons training six years ago because marshals needed more of a police-type training program rather than military-style weapons instruction.

    The TSA said in an e-mail that "the course of fire and minimum qualification score air marshal candidates must acquire is the same today as it has been for over six years."

    To replace departing air marshals, the TSA hired internally, including some administrative staff who had no college, law enforcement or military backgrounds, one current marshal said.

    "To me, it's more of an embarrassment to be a member of that agency that would allow that particular individual in the training program," one marshal said. "I wouldn't want them on my flight. ... I don't want them as my partner."

    The revelations come in the wake of a CNN investigation, in which air marshals and pilots said that only about 1 percent of the nation's 28,000 daily domestic flights were protected by onboard, armed federal marshals.

    The Federal Air Marshal Service disputes that figure.

    CNN's report about the declining number of marshals on planes also got the attention of Congress.

    In a congressional hearing this week, the head of the Transportation Security Administration, Kip Hawley, told members of Congress that what CNN heard from the air marshals is wrong.

    "I have to just correct on the factual basis on the CNN report about air marshals covering 1 percent. That number is absolutely wrong by an order of magnitude, and it was a guess by the folks there, and I just have to say that number is completely false."

    Hawley would not say what percentage of flights has air marshals. That's a national security secret.

    The service hides behind national security to keep the public from knowing how thin coverage really is, air marshals said.

    The Federal Air Marshal Service continues to refuse CNN's request for an interview.

    This month, Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who serves on the Homeland Security Committee, began holding closed-door meetings with the air marshal's service to determine whether congressional oversight committees are getting the truth.

    "We will keep working and continuing to make sure that the airlines are served with the appropriate law enforcement that ensures the safety of the traveling public. We, too, are not interested in having funny numbers," Jackson Lee said.

    Jackson Lee said that the committee has not finished its work and that she is convinced American air travel is safe for passengers. "It is important to restate and to re-emphasize: This is not an open opportunity for those who would attempt to do Americans harm. We are light years from where we were in 2000. We have trained personnel. They're being utilized, and we feel that we are steps ahead of where we were, but we want to get better. And that's what we intend to do."


    After seeing CNN's initial report, Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts sent a letter to Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff asking for clarity on the number of air marshals protecting domestic flights and sought a response by April 11.

    The senator is still waiting, Kerry's staff said.
     
  2. gym

    gym member

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    I passed that test back in the 60's the first time they gave it, and before I got hired they scrapped the program. The test was tough, all of us passed the NYPD test, but I was the only one that aced that exam,and it would have been a cake job. It's funny I remerber the physical on the NYPD, was 10 pull ups, 70lbs in each hand above your head, a 10 ft wall to scale, 100 sit ups in a certain amount of time, and a long jump. That's what I remember, then they got sued and were forced to lower the standard so women and little guys could pass too. Considering most guys back then didn't work out like later in the 70's and 80's, a 70 lb dumbell was very heavy for the average guy. And I believe there was a clean and jerk with 100 lbs. but I couldn't believe they made it so a 100 lb guy or girl could become a NYC cop. Just for showing up basically.
     
  3. Dienekes

    Dienekes Member

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    Pretty startling seeing the names of the froot loops allegedly in charge of this mess. Curly, Moe, and Shemp would be about as inspiring.

    I wouldn't trust those folks to pick up my garbage, let alone run a security system.

    The Israelis must be convinced we're nuts.
     
  4. USMC 1975

    USMC 1975 Member

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    " The Israelis must be convinced we're nuts. "

    There isn't another government in the world that I know of that can outperform the Israelis or who has a better airline safety system in place. These people are world leaders in security.

    You never want to screw around on an Israeli airliner. :)

    Chris
     
  5. Gunnerpalace

    Gunnerpalace Member

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    If someone could explain to me how a sit-up or push-up makes me a better shot, I would understand this better.
     
  6. slowworm

    slowworm Member

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    True that. Of course you also need to turn up hours before a flight.

    Security like that would kill business travel dead in the US with a single stroke.

    Is the hit to the economy really worth it? Look at the numbers of deaths on the road, yet there is no call for everyone to drive a vehicle with the performance of a golf cart.
     
  7. Elza

    Elza Member

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    Take a typical TSA screener (megalomaniacal, “I got the power so screw you” moron), hand them a gun, and make them an air marshal. Now there's a good idea!!! :scrutiny:
     
  8. Sergeant Sabre

    Sergeant Sabre Member

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    I fail to understand how we can make sweeping, negative generalizations about groups, then get all bent out of shape when somebody does the same thing with "typical" gun-owners (fat, paranoid, trigger-happy, "2nd Amendment blah blah so screw you" stupid hick redneck). :rolleyes:

    That said, knowing one person who was hired as an Air Marshall, I have to think that the standards can't be real high.
     
  9. CNYCacher

    CNYCacher Member

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    I dunno, core strength is pretty important GunnerPalace.

    I suspect the situps is just a quantifiable way to establish some measurable level of physical fitness.
     
  10. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

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    It makes you a better officer, and a better fighter in hand-to-hand or grappling. Abdominals are where your core strength comes from, and upper-body strength is necessary for a lot of rescue/EMT type stuff.

    Police do more than just shoot guns.
     
  11. Gunnerpalace

    Gunnerpalace Member

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    So it doesnt make me a better shot? :scrutiny:
     
  12. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    If government is the answer, it must have been a really stupid question.
     
  13. woodybrighton

    woodybrighton member

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    looked into being a uk air marshal then decided a year of airline travel would leave me insane :evil:
     
  14. strat81

    strat81 Member

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    Go to the range and shoot your pistol. Then, do a 40-yard dash, 30 quick situps, 15 quick push-ups, and/or 15 quick pull-ups.
    Go fire the pistol again without taking a rest.

    An increased heart rate can wreak havoc on your ability to aim. Increased heart rates can come from physical as well as mental stress.

    An analogy would be race car drivers. Physical training is a large part of a professional driver's (NASCAR, F1, IRL, etc) training regimen. "But all they do is sit in a car." Not so. Same for shooters.
     
  15. Otaku201

    Otaku201 Member

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    I really hope that article is full of lies or exagerations. A few months ago I talked to an air marshall in person about if he liked his job. He says the hardest part about the training is firearm proficiency, need to be able to draw from the holster and shoot target in the head in 1.5 seconds.
     
  16. gym

    gym member

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    Thanks guys I found that a strange response as well (the sit ups). You had to be at a certain leval of fittness to be able to restrain multiple attackers, or just one guy. Then the academy training followed, you still had to take the required training I think at the time they were using the old Police academy. Gunner that's like saying why do fire fighters have to go through 6 months of training to hold a hose. It's much more involved than being a good shot. You have to learn all kinds of things like profiling hand to hand combat, along with edged weapon training, it's not like a guy just sits there and waits for someone to pop up and shoots them.
     
  17. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Hell, air marshal training may be a joke, but a "national disgrace"?

    I think that the national disgrace is TSA people violating old ladies with walkers on the way to visit their new great grandkids while people who actually fit the profile of hijackers stroll through the gates, in the name of celebrating diversity.
     
  18. LeonCarr

    LeonCarr Member

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    The old Federal Air Marshal qualification course is available here:

    http://www.thegunzone.com/fam-lawman/fam-qual.html

    Pretty tough. Not impossible with some practice, but pretty tough :).

    Does anybody have the new course they shoot?

    Just my .02,
    LeonCarr
     
  19. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    If you ask me, I think they should have a reserve program. People who fly a lot, some flight attendants, etc. can sign up.

    Psych-profile them, train them, test them, whatever you want, just like full-time officers. Than let them serve as air marshals. Let it be known that, if you want to do anything on a plane, somebody on it will be trained and armed.

    Then, move on. Stop all this stupid over-the-top TSA crap, stop throwing away stuff like a computer tech's $80 Leatherman tool (happened to a co-worker), stop dumping out some socialite's makeup, and let me bring !@#$ing WATER on the plane. Water is kind of, you know, necessary for life.

    At the very least, do SOMETHING to make it convenient for people instead of as inconvenient as possible. If I have my trusty Swiss Army Knife in my pocket, at least let me tag it, and throw it in a box, so I can pick it up at my destination airport later. These boxes could be flown around with every plane with little expense, and an enormous increase in the happiness of the average American beleaguered air traveler. How hard would that be? What sort of ******* bureaucratic mentality does it take for someone NOT to implement that system?
     
  20. feedthehogs

    feedthehogs Member

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    What federal program is not a joke to some extent?
    Why should this one be any different.

    What the federal government and its programs are good at is creating an illusion when in fact homeland security is a chunk of swiss cheese.
    Like any business, its only as good as its employees. A quick look at TSA kind tells you who sucking up my tax dollars.
     
  21. bigjohnson

    bigjohnson Member

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    One of my best friends is a firearms instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) at Artesia, NM.
    According to him, the Air Marshals that attended FLETC at Artesia were a joke. Many of them were guards from the US Bureau of Prisons who transferred to the Air Marshal program, and were "dim bulbs" to put it mildly. He actually stated that most of them were "morons". My friend's recommendation was not to fly on ANY commercial flight in the US. This man is a retired federal law-enforcement officer with many years of experience, and I trust his opinions without reservation.
     
  22. ctdonath

    ctdonath Member

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    Getting to where you can make that shot may require going to/over/around/thru things/people - and doing so very fast. Anyone incapable of a mere 100 situps is not likely to get there fast enough.
     
  23. Sebastian the Ibis
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    Sebastian the Ibis Member

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    Armed Bear- Singapore Airlines tags your stuff for you and gives it back when you get off the flight. Great Airline, I wish American Airlines could be nearly as good.

    Has anyone else out there noticed how stupid government hiring is? USA jobs doesn't even have air marshal listed:

    http://jobsearch.usajobs.gov/jobsea...0&brd=3876&FedPub=Y&caller=/agency_search.asp

    That's a great job for someone right out of the service or college, but they don't even advertise it.

    If they really wanted to do this program right they should have some program where vets/people with security clearances etc. get trained to shoot on a plane and then can fly for a nominal fee.

    $100 round trip somewhere each weekend - I think I could do that.
     
  24. trinydex

    trinydex Member

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    perhaps it must be explained to you that law enforcement isn't about shooting people.
     
  25. Gunnerpalace

    Gunnerpalace Member

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    I know,

    It isn't,

    I am talking about the mentality that people have that if you can do 100 push-up's it somehow makes you able to hit a target 1000 yards away with 1MOA.
     
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