Wednesday, November 22, 2017
We claim to be winning the war on terrorism; and we base this claim on the fact that there have been relatively few significant terrorist acts in the recent past. (This does of course make a distinction between extremist/radical terrorism and homegrown domestic violence/terrorism – although the lines are becoming more and more blurred.)
But our sense of accomplishment and almost-victory is belied by reality. The bad guys – whatever their ilk – are in fact winning. To make my point, consider the following:
· Heavily armed law enforcement officials patrol downtown areas and sporting venues and public buildings and transportation hubs and election sites. The Super Bowl is classified as a National Security Event.
· The airplane experience has no resemblance to what it used to be: removing shoes, physical body searches, extensive baggage screening, waiting lines to enter plane areas and board are now the norm.
· The places we went to feel safe and to “get away from it all” – the movie theatres and restaurants and resorts and public parks and shopping malls are now the scenes of cruel and deadly attacks and murders. We now go armed to those places.
· The places we went for comfort and solace and healing and education – schools, churches, hospitals, day care centers, rehab facilities – are now places where the bad guys know they can prey upon the defenseless.
So with all these changes to the way we feel and the way we must now live, can we really say that we are “winning” the war on terrorism?
I think there is some comfort and consolation in knowing that bad events are still relatively infrequent. But I also think that we must never let our sense of comfort overshadow our sense of realization that we still live in an unpredictable and not-so-safe world.
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
In the security profession – or in any discipline really – being an “expert” or “expert witness” is usually not a position to which one aspires at an early age. It often comes first as an ancillary endeavor, then perhaps as a full-time profession. It usually comes mid-career, and often endures past career prime and even past normal retirement time. So how does one “become” an expert? Is there a course or test that must be taken to “become” an expert? Here’s the reality:
One does not necessarily seek recognition as an “expert;” and “expert” is not a connotation or designation bestowed on oneself – it is status or standing in one’s profession as attested to and recognized and conferred by others. Therefore, there is – and really can be – no course of study or training program or test that culminates with the title of “expert” since a true “expert” does not become so until the expertise is recognized by others.
An “expert” is generally recognized for a composite of professional education, training, experience, expertise, analytical skills, writing skills, presentation skills, involvement in professional organizations, involvement in professional activities as a volunteer, professional and personal integrity, professional and personal credibility – and having a good track record in all the aforementioned. And in addition to these attributes, “experts” usually have some other traits that are acknowledged by others: He is the “go-to” guy within his organization; he is a “go-to” guy within one’s industry and/or among one’s professional peers; he is actively sought to help with resolving problems or improving operations or developing strategies or developing policies and procedures – being sought to do for others what they should/could be doing for themselves. He is regarded as the person who will almost undoubtedly do the right thing or have the right answer at the right time.
So being the smartest man in the world by self-appointment – even if true – does not make one an “expert” as the term is being used here. Rather, it is the acknowledgement by others that one is the right person to do a particular job that distinguishes one as an “expert.”