28, 2002—Ground Zero Plus
The Vigilant Terrorist Hunters
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.
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
|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.
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.
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.
"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
"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.
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
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
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,"
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
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
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