The VigilanceVoice

July 28, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 319

Shadow Wolves--
The Vigilant Terrorist Hunters

Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, July 28--The Shadow Wolves hunt down Terrorists.   They don't do it for the love of country, or the flag, or because of Nine Eleven, or even for the "white men" they work for.   They do it for the children--all children, regardless of race, color or creed.

         Ed Cline is one of the 21 native American Shadow Wolves who stalk drug Terrorists along the Arizona-Mexico border.   He and the twenty other Shadow Wolves have been responsible for 70 percent of the 60,000 pounds seized this year over 60 miles of border separating the U.S. from Mexico.  
         An Omaha Indian, Cline is sometimes chided for capturing members of his Indian reservation who occasionally try to smuggle in drugs.  His response is one of Vigilance.  He tells his critics who hold resentments against the American government for years of oppression:  "I do what I do for the children.   I do it for everybody's kids."
        The Shadow Wolves live on the Tohono O'odham Reservation in Arizona, butted up against the Mexican border.   They are expert trackers, perhaps the best in the world.  The U.S. Customs employs them to patrol the area.  

  Patrol Territory of the Shadow Wolves

        Because of their superb skills, they  have been dispatched to the Soviet Union and Baltic to pass on their skills on how to track weapons smugglers, and also to South America to share tracking skills with our southern neighbors..

        Composition of their unit includes members from Navajo, Chicasaw, Sioux, Lakota and O'odham tribes.  
       Marvin Eleando, who has served with the Shadow Wolves for over a quarter of a century, was born and raised on the O'odham Reservation.   He says his grandfather would wake him before sunrise and "teach me how to listen, to hear things out in the desert."

Members of the U.S.Customs Shadow Wolves tracking unit

       The Shadow Wolves insignia is a shoulder patch with a gray feather, designed by Navajo tracker, Bryan Nez.   It symbolizes the death of one of their fellow braves, Glenn Miles, killed in a shootout with smugglers in 1985.   Under Congressional approval, the group was formed in the 70's to fight the "drug war."
      Armed with high-tech gear such as global positioning devices and night scopes, the trackers fall back on their instincts, using their eyes and ears and noses to ferret out smugglers.   Just looking at a footprint they can determine by its depth whether it is a drug smuggler or someone trying illegally to enter the U.S.  Or, a small fragment of fabric on a bush can determine what kind of clothing and equipment the person was wearing.

      In our war against Terrorism, and the scrambling of the U.S. Government to assemble a team to interdict and track would-be Terrorists from infiltrating our homeland, I wonder why the Shadow Wolves aren't positioned at the top of the Homeland Security Pyramid.
      After all, we're not dealing with James Bond Terrorists.   We're facing the most primitive type of guerilla warfare, men and women who become "suicide bombers" and thrive on creating Fear, Intimidation and the resulting Complacency that comes out of confusion as to how to battle these "ants of Terrorism."
       Ultimately, the hunters of Terrorism must think like the hunted, and that equation can only be formulated by those who have generations of experience, handed down from father to son, grandfather to son (or daughter), whose entire instincts become the one they seek, tuning into their movements, their gait, their sense of flight and their desperation to be undetected.

Drugs seized near the Tohono O'odham reservation


                     Trackers at work

    I also find it interesting that other nations such as Russia and the Baltic's, once our sworn enemies, would reach out and ask for the help of Native Americans, while our own government would seem the most prime of all to want their "citizens" to be the leaders of the "Osama bin Laden" hunt.
      I know a little about the power of the Indians' skills at finding things most white men are blind to see.   When I was a young man, 19 to be exact, I worked each summer with the U.S. Forest Service on a survey crew.   However, when a fire broke out in the forest, we all became firefighters.
      In one conflagration, we set a backfire to rush the main fire.   The forest was composed of giant Douglas Firs, shooting up nearly three-hundred feet.    Because I was a Forest Service employee,  I was put in charge of a group of Indian firefighters who had been flown in to assist.    There were nine of us, and I the only white man.    The fire turned and began to race toward us.   Thick blankets of smoke swept over us, choking us, blinding us, disorienting us.   You couldn't see your hand in front of your face.

Blackfeet Indians fighting Montana forest fire

       We all fell down on the ground, trying to suck the air closet to the earth as the smoke rises, and what little air there is hovers just above the ground.   I asked the leader of the Indian crew to lead us out, as I had no idea which way to go.   He refused.
      "You the leader.  You in charge," he said.  "We follow you."
      "But I don't know which way to go?"
      "I guide you."
      With that, he grabbed my boot and began to steer me left or right as we began to crawl through the smoke.   Behind me the crew was on their stomachs, forming a serpentine chain, holding on to the man's boot in front of them.   We snaked our way through the soot, ash and smoke.   I would veer right or left depending on how the Indian crew chief directed me.  We could feel the heat of the fire approaching, and I crawled as fast as I could, the smoke filling my lungs as I gasped and wheezed, following the direction of my guide's steering.
       We ended up in a ravine near a creek, where the smoke had not settled, and the air was sufficient for us to crouch and run.   He kept his hand on my belt, guiding me as we fought our way along the stream and finally exited on the flank of the fire, exhausted but safe.
       "You did good, chief," the Indian said to me.
       "You did it, I didn't," I gasped.
       "No, you in charge.  You the chief."  
       I sat on a log and drank from my canteen.   The Indian crew was assigned another area.  They all waved at me, and then disappeared in the fog of smoke, to fight another section.

Blackfeet women forest fighters

        My mind raced back to that experience this morning as I read about the Shadow Wolves.   I wondered what our Homeland Security Department would be like if they put the Shadow Wolves in charge of hunting down Terrorists.   It seemed to me that where ever Osama bin Laden was--dead or alive--the Shadow Wolves could find him.  
      It also made sense to me that where ever a Terrorist cell was trying to hide in the U.S., that the Shadow Wolves could lift up the rock they were using for cover, and dig them out as they daily did drug smugglers.

    Drug bust near the Tohono O'odham Reservation

      What inspired me most about the Shadow Wolves wasn't their uncanny skill as trackers, but the motivation behind the use of those skills.
      Ed Cline put it in such simple terms:   "We're doing what we do for everybody's kids."
      Often, I think our government is imbued with far too much politics to arrive at the best and most simple solution to complex problems.   I see the Homeland Security Department fighting over the issues of "power" and "authority," and think of a bunch of selfish people trying to protect their particular domains, to preserve their territorial imperatives, their budgets, their individuality.
       But the Native American attitude is far from selfish.    In my own case, the crew chief of the Indian firefighting unit refused to let my inexperience stand in the way of my leadership role.   He put himself behind me, not thirsty for hunger or power.  He taught me an incredible lesson in life--that one does not have to take credit for doing what is right--doing what is right is credit enough.
       Ed Cline's statement about "doing what we do for everybody's kids," is the kind of thinking that needs to saturate the decisions to revamp our Homeland Security Department, and, needs to be injected into all decisions regarding the War on Terrorism.
        The future of our children cannot become a secondary issue, or just a tag-line occasionally added to a speech or comment.   It needs to be in our nation's anti-Terrorism statement.  For example:

Proposed Mission Statement For All Homeland Security Decisions

     "We, the members of the United States Government, in our quest to secure this nation from the threat of Terrorism, avow to begin all strategy and tactical planning with the question--Is this to the benefit and security of our children, and their children's children's children?    If the priority of any decision is more political, more militaristic, or more economically driven than the safety of our children and future generations, then we must abandon that thinking and start over, for any decision made disregarding the prime issue of our children will eventually crumble, while a decision made for future generations will last forever.   Such decisions will be right decisions, not expedient ones.  And right decisions will starve Terrorism while wrong ones will feed its appetite."

         I believe Terrorism feeds on selfishness.   It is driven by the blindness of people who seek to protect themselves and their society from harm.  That kind of thinking excludes the future generations.  What's good NOW is not necessarily good LATER.
         The rush to fracture the U.S. Constitution with invasive law enforcement systems that threaten the rights of future citizens is one example.   The idea we give up any rights to solve the problem of today is mere folly, for those rights are not ours to give up.  They belong to the children not us.   Yet, each day, under the fear of the Terrorism fires, and the choking smoke of public pressures, the government is bulldozing its way toward the Constitutional Wall, proposing that citizens spy on citizens through the TIPS program, and shipping Terrorist suspects off to countries where they can be tortured for information, and redesigning our Homeland Security Systems to meet current political agendas.
       Amidst all this cacophony of political, military and economic madness, the simplicity of Terrorism is being smoke screened.   Terrorism is about Fear, Intimidation and Complacency-- our government appears to be spreading it, not eliminating it, as it embarks on threats to our Constitutional Privileges, and appears to tower over the citizens with a "I know more than you know," attitude.

      And, in the center of the eye of the storm is a simple, profound solution.   
      The Shadow Wolves.
       Men who have, as young boys, spent their lives tracking down ruthless criminals intent on Terrorizing our children with drugs--with far more devastating results than anything Osama bin Laden could imagine--aren't being asked to lead the planning of our anti-Terrorism systems.
      While it may not be possible for Ed Cline or any of the Shadow Wolves to actually head up the daily decisions of any of these political units, it is very possible that Ed Cline and his fellow Shadow Wolves can guide the President of the United States as I was guided years ago by my Native American "Shadow Wolf."

        I propose that the President lie on his stomach in Oval Office and let Ed Cline guide his hand right or left to pen his decisions until the Homeland Security System is right not just for our nation today, but for "everybody's kids," past, present and future.







Go To July 27-The Monkey Business Of Vigilance

©2001 - 2004,, All rights reserved -  a ((HYYPE)) design