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How Did I Get Into the Security Field?

Feb 17, 20093 mins
CareersIT LeadershipPhysical Security

Someone recently asked me how I got into the field of security. It made me think about exactly how I did end up in this arena since it was not something I had ever examined. To examine this, we need to go back about 25 years to the 80’s

During the mid-80’s while stationed in the Mediterranean area I spent time in a Surveillance and Warning Center (S&WC). This era was marked by hijackings (such as TWA 847 and the murder of Robert Dean Stethem), the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, terrorist bombings (such as the US Marines in Beirut at the airport by Imad Mughniyah), and war in Lebanon, and military activity in Libya in particular the Aouzou Strip near Chad reported to be rich in uranium.  

TWA 847 - Imad Mughniyah
Carlos handiwork

We knew as we provided SIGINT support so too we were targeted for the same. Security became a must. Any travel had to be officially sanctioned or part of a TDY (Temporary Duty Yonder) assignment. 

Our location was continually under protest by local communist groups who would try to shut us down by protesting at one gate or another. We were under strict instructions to report any and all contact with a member of these communist groups. We were also under instructions not to venture too close to their rallies. I must say I still have pictures taken from a rooftop hotel peering down on just one such rally. Any such activity would come to fruition when the OSI boys would venture to our location from Wiesbaden to perform their espionage and sabotage lie detector tests. Pass the test – free to go. Fail the test …

Aouzou Strip

Since we had special language skills garnered after nearly 51 weeks of 5-6 hour/day classroom activity followed by 2-3 hours per night of homework; then followed by another nearly 5 month course of study that was marked by 8 hours/day 5 days a week and additional nightly homework; followed again by another 30 to 90 day onsite course of instruction to gain ‘local color’; we were something of value to those that trained us. Armed with these skills and the accompanying TS SCI/SBI clearance, we were drilled to ensure the proper handling of sensitive information.  We also had access to or participated in interesting and potentially strangely arousing activities.

While overseas, we were never at a location that was very big armed only with M-16s, side arms and maybe a few M-60s.   Low key and non-descript was the order of the day.