Later this month I’ll attend the first-ever Southeast Regional Warrior Symposium, presented by SARK Securities and co-hosted by the Orlando (Fla.) City Police Department. As I have previously written, luminaries like Dr. Michael J. Sulick (Former Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service), and none other than the legendary SGM Billy Waugh (Ret.) are scheduled to present. Further, I will have the opportunity to meet and spend time with some of the top military and law enforcement leaders in the nation. It will be an exceptional week, no doubt.
There will be a series of classroom seminars addressing topics such as National Security, Mass Casualty Response, Active Shooter Threat Planning and Preparation, and a host of others. There will be a live-fire venue, hosted by Orlando City PD, at which attending trainers will have the opportunity to work with internationally-recognized instructors SGM Nir Maman, SGM Pete Gould, and Steve Mescan, and the ammo will be provided by SARK Securities.
During the five-day seminar I will divide my time as best as possible between the Command Leadership track and the Warrior Track. Late last week, I spoke again with my friend Chris Ghannam — Chief Technology Officer and Training Coordinator for SARK, who has been working on this event for more than a year — to get a little more information on the upcoming program. Next week I’ll provide a synopsis of our conversation about the Warrior Track — here I’ll address what Ghannam told me about the Command Leadership track.
A Post-Graduate-level Colloquium
The Southeast Regional Warrior Symposium begins on Monday morning, February 27th, with opening ceremonies which will include Keynote Speakers Bobby Henline (read more about Henline here) and Craig Floyd (of NLEOMF). Lectures on day one will include thought-leaders such as Dr. Michael Asken, Brian Willis, Henk Iverson, COL. Danny McKnight (Black Hawk Down) and the abovementioned Chris Ghannam (many of whom are PoliceOne Contributors).
“We’re setting this up as almost a post-Graduate-level curriculum, where you’re going to have a distinguished panel in front of you,” Ghannam said when we connected via phone last week. “You have one day that discusses your public relations, your legal, and your policy side. Then the next day you have an operational and planning focus, and on the final day we have the national security and intelligence focus.”
The rooms for the Command Leadership track will be set up “classroom style” with tables and note-taking materials provided. For each session, there will be “runners” tasked with taking note cards from attendees who write down their questions for the panel, specifying which panelist they might want to answer their questions. Those note cards will be fed to the moderator throughout the day, and the moderator will subsequently address those inquiries to the appropriate panelists in the final segment of each day.
“Your distinguished panel is going to consist of four to five world-class colleagues,” Ghannam explained. “They’re going to give between a one-hour and a one-hour-and-forty minute lecture in each given topic. It’s going to be moderated by Mr. Jeff Norwitz the first two days — as we talked about, Jeff is the former Counterterrorism Chair for the Naval War College — and Brian Willis is going to moderate the last day because Jeff will be on the panel for that day.”
A Closed-Door Discussion
The whole point of the exercise is to cut out all the ‘canned crap’ which tends to permeate a lot of seminars and events at which the speakers are constrained by limitations on what “talking points” will be tolerated by the speaker’s agency or department.
“This is not going to be an agency debrief — it’s not a capabilities debrief. It’s a chance to hear the explicit opinions of those individuals. When they come, they’re not there representing their given agencies. They’re there giving their experience, their beliefs, their feelings, and their recommendations. It’s not going to be, ‘You have to say this because you’re mandated by this agency to say this.’ Nobody wants to hear that — they can read that all day online.”
I am truly honored to be asked to attend this event — and not just because I see the obvious value in the high-level of presenters, attendees, and program highlights. I am the only member of “the media” who will be allowed to be there.
“A lot of the panelists have continuously reiterated that media cannot be present,” Ghannam stated. “In fact, I just got off the phone with Dr. Michael J. Sulick, Former Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, and I told him that you would be present and that you are the only member of the media we’re permitting to attend — he said he’s good with that.”
A Multi-Lateral Perspective
Ghannam told me that the people attending the Command Leadership track are generally lieutenant-level and above on the law enforcement side — a lot of lieutenants, captains, and chiefs — who are coming from across the country to get the thoughts from a variety of experts on how we can pave a road for the future.
“This is a chance to hear not just from a local, neighboring jurisdiction, but to get into the mind of a world-class scholar in another region of the country or even another region of the world. While a presenter may have an international perspective, the focus is on domestic — we want to keep the discussion topics to how does international stuff affect our stateside entities. We don’t want any information to be out of context or irrelevant to our stateside LE or homeland security side.”
For example, the national security intelligence day will begin with John Williams from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office talking about covert criminal communications. Among the topics Williams will cover will be how high-level criminal organizations continue to communicate across borders from within our own prisons. These lessons are applicable not only to addressing — and preventing! — criminal behavior, but to the wider national security issues of trans-national terrorism and other threats.
“Jeff Norwitz is going to be breaking down a very specific group. The objective of his lecture is to enlighten security professionals about the fastest growing religion in the world in order that attendees can conduct effective liaison, community outreach, investigations, intelligence best-practices, and successfully interrelate with persons from Muslim communities. With Dr. Sulick coming as the former Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, we’ve asked him to provide his direct insight as to what he feels the future of the intelligence community is headed, where we’re falling short, where out strengths lie, and where we need to be gearing up for the future.”
Toward the end of our call, Ghannam summed it all up perfectly when he said, “At the end of the day, the fundamental construct has to be our national security, our citizens. At the end of the day, if you’re wearing a badge, you’re on a mission to support and defend. Whether it be policy dissemination or whether it be planning and preparation — we need to get the community as a collective on the same page.”