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Mission 19 - Force Background & Histories
World SWAT Challenge
Friendly Forces

Founded in 1996 by former SEAL Gary Jackson and two other commandos, Blackwater has trained more than 50,000 law enforcement and military personnel, provided security to people like CPA administrator Paul Bremer while in Iraq, and trained foreign nationals under a State Department program. Blackwater’s five companies include an aviation outfit that specializes in airborne missions in global hotspots, a training system, and even a canine security branch.

After the Columbine tragedy, Blackwater built a high school-style training complex for law enforcement teams called "RU Ready High," and after the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, the company constructed a fake Navy vessel for drills. In addition to its headquarters in Moyock, NC - not far from the east coast headquarters of the Navy SEALs - Blackwater has offices in Baghdad, Kuwait City, and Mclean, Virginia - home of the CIA. Back to top

The first Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams were formed in Los Angeles in the late 1960’s to deal with a growing number of sniping incidents. Beat cops didn’t have the combat training to deal with these situations, and riot squads weren’t a good substitute. Officer John Nelson came up with the idea to form a specially trained and equipped unit to respond to these critical situations, and Inspector Darryl F. Gates - who would later become famous as LA’s chief of police -- approved it.

This first SWAT unit had 15 teams of four men apiece. And on December 9, 1969, they had their first major mission - a four-hour standoff with members of The Black Panthers. Later, in 1974, LAPD SWAT took on a group of fugitives from the now-famous "Symbionese Liberation Army" (SLA), who had holed up in a house on Compton Avenue. Though the SLA fired almost 4,000 rounds during the melee, no cops or innocent bystanders were injured. The siege received worldwide media coverage, and the SWAT teams became famous. SWAT units sprouted up all over the country, and many federal agencies began to develop teams with similar training. Back to top

The creator of the World SWAT Challenge, Dr. O’Connor is an exercise physiologist with more than 20 years experience in performance training. He is vice president of On Target Communications. In recent years he has helped develop hiring and training programs for police, fire, and government organizations in more than 100 cities around the country.  Dr. O'Connor has been the lead American delegate to the International Olympic Academy and the U.S. Army's representative on NATO's Physical Performance Study Group. He has taught at West Point, chaired the Occupational Physiology Interest Group for ACSM, served on the ACSM Ethics committee, and was a member of the Integrated Benefits Institute’s Board of Directors.  He is decorated combat veteran - an Army Ranger who served in the 82nd Airborne Division, the 509th Airborne, and the 4th ID. Back to top

Now the State Department chief ambassador for counterterrorism, Cofer Black has spent 28 years in the CIA’s Clandestine Services and was head of the Agency’s Counterterrorist Center. Black is widely respected in the intelligence community as one of the key players in the capture of terrorist kingpin Carlos the Jackal in the 1990’s. And on September 11, 2001 he worked with then-CIA head George Tenet to give orders to the CIA office operating out of the World Trade Center. Later, he personally briefed the president with a plan to send the first covert teams from the Special Operations Group into Afghanistan to begin the secret war that would topple the Taliban and al Qaeda.

During his career, Ambassador Black has served six tours in field stations, in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, and he has won the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the George H. Bush Medal for Excellence, and the Exceptional Collector Award. Back to top

Bill is a 25-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and one of the original members of the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), the so-called "Super SWAT team" that is one of the country’s most elite counterterrorist units, along with Delta Force and Dev Group (Seal Team Six). Since 1983, Luthin has seen action during most of the FBI’s major crises - including hostage situations, raids, manhunts, and investigations. In 1999, he reorganized HRT and SWAT operations into a single unit. And in 2002, Luthin directed all the security forces of the FBI and local law enforcement agencies during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Back to top

A retired officer in the Israeli Police Forces who has taught thousands at the national academy, Kotser is a leading authority on SWAT techniques. Much of his work has focused on street intelligence - identifying suicide bombers and terrorists quickly and effectively. His career includes postings as an El Al Airlines security officer, service in the Israeli Border Police Anti-terror Unit, and VIP security jobs in Israel and Europe. Back to top

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