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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Kerrian’s Notebook, p.137 “What does the TSA really do?”

 

Most of us associate the TSA (Transportation Security Agency) with annoying lines in the airports and intrusive searches through baggage, electronics, and personal belongings. In fact, the agency has 50,000 members and is also responsible for conducting inspections in rail cars and for patrolling subways in cooperation with local law enforcement men and women.

 

This most recent variation of airport and border security agencies was formed in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 – the day of the worst terrorist attacks the USA has experienced. The TSA was organized and revamped in order to make travel throughout the country (and beyond) safer. These days, they operate under the umbrella of Homeland Security/Office of Law Enforcement.

 

Before September 11, 2001, airport screening was provided by the airlines/airports  themselves. Afterward, the TSA was given oversight control of personnel training, in addition to the screening process itself. Not all airports had screening procedures in place, so that was changed as well. Bulletproof and locked cockpit doors became the norm because of the TSA, rather than the previous open door, friendly-to-all policy.

 

Other changes brought about in order to improve national security and passenger safety:

  • Some aircraft have CCTV cameras on board, so that the cockpit crew can keep an eye out for unusual activity in the passenger areas.
  • Some crewmembers are licensed and trained to carry firearms.
  • Air Marshals travel undercover in the passenger section of the planes.

 

Federal Flight Deck Officers As terrorist threats in the air became more of a concern, the TSA created the Flight Deck Officer Program. Certain crewmembers are authorized and trained to use firearms as well as self-defense maneuvers to defend against anyone trying to get control of the cockpit/plane. On any given flight, it could be the pilot, co-pilot or navigator holding the gun that protects the crew.

 

Federal Air Marshals travel undercover on many US flights, not only domestic, but throughout the world. They protect the people onboard (as well as in airports) by detecting and responding to threats, managing any incidents (such as hostage situations) and generally acting as the law enforcement group within the TSA. The FAMS is most likely to have trained the canines used in patrolling the airports.

 

Federal Air Marshals have been around since 1962 in one form or another, under the jurisdiction of different agencies, at one time special volunteers for the program, but now a mandated position. They also assist other groups (such as the National Counterterrorism Center) when their special expertise in airport security is required.

 

Just knowing the Marshals are onboard, makes me feel safer when I travel. These guys and gals have to work without backup, so they train in all kinds of scenarios in order to protect the passengers and crew while in the air. Marshals are highly skilled in the use of handguns, but shooting inside a plane is pretty much a bad idea. The Marshals have other methods to subdue any people that might be crazy enough to disturb a flight.

 

Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR)

One of the arms of the TSA combines specialists from several areas and sends them out when needed in high-risk situations at transportation hubs throughout the country.  They have been given the authority to work with federal, state and local law enforcement if transportation is affected by a terrorist threat. A team might include:

  • Federal Air Marshals (FAMs)
  • Transportation Security Officers  (TSOs)
  • Behavior Detection Officers (BDOs)
  • TSA certified explosive detection canine teams
  • Transportation Security Inspectors (TSIs)
  • Transportation Security Specialists – Explosives (TSSEs)
  • Local law enforcement officers

The team would receive any (or all) of the following in order to get the job done:

  • explosives operational support
  • security and explosive screening technology
  • radiological/nuclear detection backup  


Yup. They do more than screen the baggage.

 

For more information about the TSA, please go to www.tsa.gov.

 

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Kerrian’s Notebook, p.136 “Chicken and Sausage Gumbo”

 

 

Mardi Gras is upon us! A friend of ours usually goes to New Orleans every year to celebrate, but this year she’ll have to miss it because of a work conflict. She loves the great food and the music, and has even thought of moving there. (I think she just wants to get away from all the snow and ice up here.) Since she can’t go, we thought we’d have her over for dinner, cook up some gumbo, and get some lively New Orleans music streamed in.

 

She likes both seafood and meat gumbos, and our recipe combines both. I’ve been told that there are as many gumbo recipes as there are cooks to make it. Apparently, as long as celery, green bell peppers, and onions are the base, almost anything else can go into the pot.

 

Here’s our version:

"Chicken and Sausage Gumbo"
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch chunks, and seasoned with salt
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ pound Andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • ½ pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • ½ pound okra pods, sliced into 1/4 inch slices, stems removed (or 2 cups sliced, frozen okra)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon + 4 Tablespoons butter/canola spread
  • 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, seeded, then chopped into 1/4 ” pieces
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, seeded, then chopped into 1/4” pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth (2 cups for stew, 3 cups for soup)
  • 1 Tablespoon Bay seasoning
  • (optional) 1/2 pound cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp
  • Cooked white rice
Instructions
  1. Salt the chicken, all sides. In deepest pot you have, use 1 Tablespoon olive oil and sauté the chicken on medium high heat until golden brown – about 5 mins.
  2. Add sausages and 1 Tablespoon chicken broth to the pot. Lower heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep meat from sticking. Take off heat.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the okra with 1 teaspoon butter and ½ teaspoon sea salt in pan at medium high heat for 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside, including juices.
  4. The Roux: In the sauté pan, melt 4 Tablespoons butter. Add the flour 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly on medium heat to mix thoroughly, until the roux is the color of dark caramel, but not burned - about 15 minutes. Drop the heat to low, then add the onion, stir constantly until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add celery, bell peppers, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, garlic and mix together until well-coated – about 5 minutes. Mixture will be thick.
  5. Add vegetable mixture to the sausage/chicken pot and mix together.
  6. Slowly add back in (stir after each cup) the okra, chicken broth, and Bay seasoning. Turn heat up long enough to bring mixture to a boil, then drop heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes, continuing to stir. Add salt to taste if needed.
  7. If adding the cooked shrimp, drop it into the mixture and stir together, another 5 minutes.
  8. Place cooked rice in bowl, then place gumbo on top. Serve with cornbread.

Enjoy!

 

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Kerrian’s Notebook, p.135 “Could you be a sniper?”

 

Sniper:  an expert marksman that operates from a concealed position some distance from the target, usually having the additional advantage of elevation.

 

Snipers have been used as an effective strategy in fighting wars for over 200 years. They came into use in law enforcement as a way to combat domestic terrorism without involving the military. There is more to it than being a great shot, and there are several differences between police and military sniper jobs as well as different types of training involved.

 

A law enforcement sniper in a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) unit generally operates as part of a team in hostage situations or other hi-risk events, sometimes to provide protection, sometimes to eliminate the threat of a specific target. The targets are generally under 100 yards away and the assignments are usually completed in a few hours. Police snipers shoot only as a last resort.

 

A military sniper works with a spotter or a team to protect and defend his military unit from harm while they are on assignment during wartime. He is typically shooting from a higher, concealed place, so that he can spot the enemy and alert the troops below of enemy movement. On occasion, a military sniper is shooting at a target 1000 or more yards away. The record for a long distance confirmed kill shot is currently held by British Army CoH Craig Harrison, achieved in November, 2009, at a range of 2,707 yards.

 

SWAT team members have sometimes entered law enforcement after serving in the military, so if you’ve ever wondered what it takes, here are some of the requirements from both military and civilian routes.

 

Each of the branches of the military has similar basic training programs, but vary slightly because of the specific needs of each.

 

Potential Marine Snipers (like Special Agent Gibbs on NCIS) can expect a rigorous thirteen-week training schedule after Marine Boot Camp and then additional training, depending on the specialty.

While in Boot Camp the candidates must attain at minimum:

  • Expert rating with rifles
  • Physical Fitness Test (PFT) with a first class score
  • Swimming test – including 30 minutes treading water and testing whether the recruits can survive in the water while wearing all combat gear (rifle, helmet, flak jacket and pack)
  • 20/20 vision, no color blindness

 

There is Infantry Training after Boot Camp where the candidate may volunteer for scout/sniper school at either Recon School or at the Infantry Battalion. The candidate must have scored well on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), have no Courts Martial on record, be of sound mind, and have achieved the rank of at least Lance Corporal.

 

Just in case you’re wondering what is required past the basic Physical Fitness Test (which is mostly about cardio fitness and endurance while wearing workout clothes), all Marines must now complete a Combat Fitness Test while wearing the complete uniform (boots, etc)

 

Combat Fitness Test Requirements

Males
Age 880 Yard Run Ammo Can Lifts Maneuver Under Fire
17-26 3:48 45 3:29
27-39 4:00 45 3:55
40-45 4:19 44 3:57
46+ 4:30 43 4:28

 

 

Army Sniper

It is suggested that a candidate for an Army Sniper spot must be great at math and science, in order to know how to adjust the angle of a shot for wind speed, direction and target range.

 

They should have learned the basics of marksmanship and have entered shooting competitions before enlisting in the Army.

 

Graduating from Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) means that you have passed the minimums. You are given two minutes for each:   pushups and sit-ups. The two-mile run is timed. The chart below shows minimum requirements.

 

Age Group

Gender

Push-Ups

Sit-Ups

2-Mile Run

17 – 21

Male

42

53

15:54

Female

19

53

18:54

22 – 26

Male

40

50

16:36

Female

17

50

19:36


After graduating from Boot Camp, the candidate will wait for a sniper opening and then try out.

It is possible to become a spotter for a sniper as an alternate plan. Spotters go along to protect and defend the sniper from enemy attack and keep track of the enemy while helping the sniper adjust his shots. 

 

Navy SEAL Sniper

During training, the candidate learns about digital photography, computer imaging and satellite communication.

After the technical part is mastered, he also learns about camouflage, patrolling, and how to get in and out of hostile territory without leaving any trace behind – not even bullet casings.

Advanced marksmanship is only one part of this training. No out of shape hunters need apply. Navy SEALS have one of the most demanding physical training regimens anywhere.

 

FBI Sniper

FBI snipers are part of elite SWAT and Hostage Rescue Teams (HRT)

They must be able to work independently and in team situations, since they often arrive at the scene before any local task force and have eyes on the targets before anybody else does.

 

Minimum requirements for the FBI:

  • The candidate must be 23-37
  • Four year college degree
  • Three years on the job experience.
  • Must pass a variety of physical, medical and drug tests and interviews.

Then, if accepted, candidates attend the FBI Academy in a 21 week training program, then serve in a field office for at least two years.

After the two years, they can volunteer for SWAT or HRT training and then must attend Marine Sniper Course for 12.5 weeks.

Every field office has its own SWAT team.


Still want to be a sniper? Before you open the door to the recruiter’s office, think.

 

  • Do you have what it takes to get through all the training?
  • Can you handle the intensity of the job?
  • Are you good at waiting?
  • Can you lie on the ground, motionless for long stretches at a time?
  • Are you patient?
  • Are you capable of pulling the trigger and actually making the kill shot?

 

For more information about sniper training, click on the links below:

 

http://navyseals.com

 

http://www.fbiagentedu.org/careers/tactical-operations/become-sniper-in-fbi/

 

http://www.military.com/military-fitness/army-fitness-requirements

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/10740415/What-does-it-take-to-be-a-military-sniper.html

 

http://army.com/new-fitness-and-combat-readiness-tests

 

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/marines/a/cft.htm

 

*Photos of Police and Secret Service snipers courtesy of Wikipedia.

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