View Full Version : I have some issues with ISS and the training that they are reported to provide.

George Hill
June 10, 2002, 12:13 PM
I’m not sure where to start. How about this – I think these clowns have no place in US Law Enforcement Training. If they want to train wannabe commandos that’s fine. But no self respecting law enforcement trainer should be looking at them and think, “Yeah, Baby! THAT is what we need!” I think they are irresponsible to a shockingly high degree.
Training exercises with live round being fired while students are down range – whatever that situation was… Judas Priest! That’s fine for the INFANTRY at BENNING to do – but to have a STUDENT break out his rifle and do that is flamboyantly irresponsible. Leave that to the troops with a tripod mounted gun that is blocked to not allow fire outside of a safe fire zone.
Force on force training with paintballs – I am all for. But without the proper safety gear? -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED- – OVER! I’ve been playing paintball for over 10 years. I’ve seen the dark side of that sport and it stems from jackholes like ISS breaking the fundamental and most basic of rule. “GOGGLES ON”. Not just “safety goggles” or shooting glasses. No. Certified proper Paintball Goggles are REQUIRED. To put Officers out there without the proper goggle system that protects both eyes and ears is blatantly asinine. Departments send the guys out to train to improve skills… to come back a little better then they were before. Not to get awarded a slot on the Gimp Roster because they lost an eye. A paintball shot to the eyes can cause blindness in not just 1, but BOTH EYES. Can even cause DEATH. It doesn’t even have to be a hit to the eyes. Paintballs can shatter and break on anything, Such as the paintball marker your holding or the cover your ducking by. That shattering ball can send shell fragments flying everywhere. Few things can ruin your day like a shell fragment lodged in your retina. Yeah, I want to send my best Officers to get that kinda treatment. “Try to aim for the legs” – well that is a worth while training exercise! I call BS to that. What is the point of doing it if your not practicing your Front Sight Press on the Center Mass? Especially considering the risks?

I’m pleased no one was seriously hurt by that. Just a few broken ribs and arms… Nice. So much for the guy that had those officers scheduled for duty the next day. That’s money well spent on training. I thought the first goal of any training… the first and last concern was SAFETY. But I’m not a gunslinger anymore – maybe I’m wrong. Maybe things have changed. Maybe Officers are like Russian Troops and a 6% casualty rate is acceptable during training.

Speaking of storm troopers… What’s the deal with teaching and drilling on the “Finale”? Last time I check, a SWAT TEAM was still a LAW ENFORCMENT group. We didn’t even train that way at Ft Brag. We are not killers. We don’t send our SWAT teams in to kill everyone. We use SWAT to SAVE LIVES. To apprehend the bad guys to bring them to justice. This doesn’t include close range shots to the head… because that’s what this ISS jackoff is talking about. It’s about enforcing the law – not about wiping out the enemy. It’s about putting the bad guys in cuffs – not body bags. I don’t want to hear any justification for that BS. That’s not what American Police Officers do. And for that reason, American Police Officers should not be training like that. EVER.

The fascination with Israeli techniques is understandable. Maybe they should go over that with the Marines and Army. But I don’t want my local Police Officers – the guys that wave at my kids as they drive by… the guy I talk to over the fence… the guy that pulls me over if I’m too heavy on the far right pedal… I don’t want him being trained as a killer. I want him as a Peacekeeper. Peace Officer. Protecting and Serving. Being a part of the community. The guy I call when I need help (ahem, after the fact). This super aggressive stuff has a place. But I don’t see it in the US. Maybe for a Nuke Plant rapid response team… Maybe.

I hope, honestly, that the instructors at ISS rethink the idea. To take the Israeli techniques and “apply” that to Law Enforcement and not have Law Enforcement apply Israeli techniques. If you get my drift. If they can’t do that… then LEOs should stay the hell away from ISS.

Kudos to Rob for getting through it in one piece.

Rich Lucibella
June 10, 2002, 01:02 PM
Well, I'll let Rob respond to this if he ever comes off the road. Obviously, he made many of the same criticisms in print, though not as "stridently" as George. However, this was their first class here...and it was geared to showing the media "how we do things there". Additionally, Rob did find some real redeeming value in some of their training, especially the fact that they train real hard.

On a side note, I'm proud to say that he called me during lunch the first day and told me this was gonna be a gruelling session. My response was to contact them direct and report that he had referenced them as a "bunch of pansies"! Boy, did he have fun after that! :D

George Hill
June 10, 2002, 01:07 PM

Rob Pincus
June 10, 2002, 07:34 PM
Still, the road, but also online....

George, you are on target. Many of the more experienced guys were tracking with your comments. My quandary was trying to present a Fox News Channel (fair & balanced) article and not come off like I was just bashing or whining. That wouldn't have served anyone, particularly the magazine.
Denny will back up the fact that the original article was almost twice as long. I was struggling with drawing conclusions and making judgements without explaining the situation. To do so would've let everything rest on my reputation, if such a thing exists! Jeff Cooper can write without full explanations, people look at his columns for opinion and judgement... I'm here to try to inform. I need to establish some facts before I feel comfortable with tossing my judgements out for the world.. afterall, I'm just some hack with a word processor and lots of free time ;). I didn't think it would serve much purpose to say "ISS Sucks for US LE Training!" and leave it be. In fact, I do think that is the case. I think that they do have something to offer....they just need to figure out the right way to present it. I honestly believe two things: They mean well and that they didn't realize that what they were doing was so far out of line. If anyone is to "blame," I'd point the finger at their US employees and consultants before the Isrealis themsevles.

Hopefully, people will read the article (both inside ISS and out) and see exactly what you did: some areas that need serious attention. Two years from now, If ISS is offering some tough, but practical and realistic, training for US LE, I'll be proud to have participated in their development.

The latest word from the locals in the St. Augustine area is that the First Coast Technical Insitute ( a regional fire/police/EMS academy) has severed ties with ISS. The last time I talked to Matt Takahasi (sp?) he told me that the situation in Isreal is keeping ISS from developing their efforts in the US at this time, but he did say that they were looking at purchasing and developing their own training center.

A few points of clarification:
1. If the "finale" came across as a death shot to the head, it should not have. It was meant to simulate the fact that a man going down (or a balloon being popped) does not necessarily mean that the threat has ended.
2. The fascination with "Isreali Tactics" is part of the reason that I really wanted to write the article the way I did. Some people are going to want to attend just because of the name of the school... when it comes down to it, that's probably why Rich and I were interested... Like I said in the article, if you want that "experience" man-up and go for it, but I wanted people to be prepared for what I saw. I have no doubt that other magazines would have written the story differently, or (more likely) not at all. Other than asking me to shorten it (of necessity), Denny did not change one bit of content.
3. The founder of the school had a hard time understanding how I could be "police" and "journalist".. he warned me the first morning that I was not going to be treated as a journalist if I choose to undertake the training. Apparently, they had another writer at the course two weeks earlier and he dropped out the first morning.
4.They had two "introductory" courses, mine was the second. I've met three people who took the first one, and there were very few changes, although they did not have the TV crews present. On that topic, some of you saw me on Fox TV earlier this year, that interview was filmed during this school.
5. Rich is still owed for that phone call he made after that first morning. :p

June 13, 2002, 11:03 PM
As for Israeli tactics, talk the talk and walk the walk.
During an assault on the Golan heights, 19 of 21 Isreali tanks were knocked out. The commander in charge stormed a barb wire fence and laid down on it so his men could run over him and assault the position. It is not always superior intelligence that leads to their victory. The other guy gets beat, he can go home.
The Israelis get beat, they die by execution, torture, or whatever the ragheads decide. They would be wiped out to the last woman and child. Kind of puts a different perspective on tactics for them.

As for the finale, I think it is useful in unarmed combat. All moves must include a finisher. As for civil teams, well, it is a fine line in firing situations. Citizens are citizens and must be respected and treated with respect. Armed terrorists must be shot like mad dogs. It takes a special person to walk that line.
That is the real question. As for the modern cop mentality, I see too many scared cops. I don't know what they are scared of but quite a few are downright scared.

Good night.


I know how it feels to be set up. Many, many years ago when I took my fist Karate class on my own time, I was tired after working all day-took it after work, not on duty-and had a hard time concentrating at times. My ex wife told the instructor I had just got back fromFt. Bragg and thought i was tough. I didn't know where Ft. Bragg was! He whispered for me to make it look good and rolled me really good for the class. Afterwards, he told me I really made it look good, like I was inept! I am glad he did not kill me, and it slowly sunk in that I was a beginner! Well, it went well after that but I was sore for a while. That instructor was almost as tough as some editors. They use verbal bludgeons to great effect.

June 18, 2002, 09:28 AM
Thank you, Mr. Hill, for putting many of my thoughts on that training into words. I was less than impressed with what I read about their "Training" and believe that with that sort of "School" it can only hurt REAL training.

June 18, 2002, 04:59 PM
I am curious about ISS drilling into the students that there are no losers. It reminds of something a US public school would teach. Of course there are losers, the guys who end up maimed and dead.

Don Gwinn
June 18, 2002, 08:29 PM
No losers in training, I believe.

June 19, 2002, 05:51 PM
I wonder if the students that were forced out due to injuries felt like winners ?

Rob Pincus
June 24, 2002, 12:44 PM
Don's take is correct. One of the things that I believe ISS was doing right was stressing that, though you may fail to achieve the objective during a training scenario, you are still better off than you were without attempting the training. Personally, I find that failing a scenario can often be more beneficial than successfully completing one.

In training, we should be trying to achieve perfect execution of our plans to achieve the objective. If we take a few shortcuts and the objective is still achieved (or we just get lucky), everyone smiles and high-fives are exchanged, but did we really advance ourselves? For the past 8 months or so, I've been experimenting with running video during training. Being able to play back an entry drill, for example, has been very eye-opening. Similarly, recording range time can be very valuable. You shoot isoceles, huh? Gee, it sure looks like your weak arm bends right after you start shooting ;).

Rather than explain the concept theoretically, ISS tried to PT the concept into our bodies. The rationale? If we didn't learn, we'd at least be stronger from the push-ups, etc!

Don Gwinn
June 25, 2002, 10:17 AM
I see what G3 means, though. If you're going to push a "no losers" philosophy, is it safe to do that in a training environment that is so harsh and competitive? If people are going to be taking part in fierce physically competitive exercises where people can easily get hurt (and did) might it be safer to emphasize fighting hard over making sure everyone feels like a winner?
Or might that lead to more injuries?
I don't know.

I've been reading a lot about Aikido lately, and they have much the same philosophy as I think I got from Rob's post. In training, they consider the "competitive mind" a detriment and avoid all perception of winning and losing as best they can. Pettman says the aikidoka trains for higher "sensitivity" to an opponent, a better understanding of his balance, movement and mind. This is why aikidoka do so many exercises in which one does not resist the technique, which look like flowery demonstrations to the rest of us (I admit I haven't quite accepted this philosophy.) Being thrown is as educational for the uke as throwing is for the other guy, and the thrower is not demonstrating superiority to the throwee.

Rob Pincus
June 27, 2002, 10:23 AM
In the ISS application of the No Losers policy (in training), they are referring to anyon who participates in hard-core serious training. It was readily acknowledged that certain people achieved objectives while others did not. I do not believe that they would approve of the Aikido approached described by Don. If meaningful opposition or challenge was not presented during the excercise, how could we truly judge performance? Being thrown (or shot with simunitions, etc) can be very valuable, but if you are letting someone throw you that is a different story. The best you can hope to get out of that might be learning how to take a fall, punch, etc. Of course, that lack of resistance is necessary for the other guy to learn the technique, particularly fine motor skill techniques like those often found in Aikido.

For myself, I believe that the approach described by Don is very valuable during the learning phase of training. One cannot develop technique, particularly with new skills, when they are going at 75%+ against determined opposition or in a very challenging situation. Imagine trying to teach someone how to use a new retention holster using only 60 second "Fight For Life" retention drills. It probably wouldn't help the person very much and there would be too much going on to really determine whether or not they employed a "proper" technique, in regards to the new holster. Of course, if they kept the gun, the objective would've been achieved, but perhaps it could've been easier with better technique. Shouldn't that have been a major factor in the adoption of the new holster system?

Later in training, during the evaluation phase, I believe that realistic obstacles, opposition and variables are necessary to bring about an environment that requires top-notch application of skills. Only these circumstances can allow you to evaluate the mastery of a skill-set and also allow you to evaluate the practicality of a technique. Referencing ISS training specifically, during a one-on-one practical excercise to test our application of the "fight forward at all times" approach, most of us found the technique itself failed. We did apply it as we were directed, but we found that the more aggressive person, who left cover first, most often was the one who failed his objective. OTOH, when we were doing no-opposition drills with the same technique, it appeared to be a viable option. Traditionaly, we train to leave cover only in extreme circumstances and I don't think anyone was going to change their approach after ISS.

Slack opposition or cookie-cutter predictable scenarios cannot provide for a realistic analysis of ability. Worse yet, they can allow the development of some bad habits. A simple example is IDPA clubs that do not mandate concealed carry for all stages. I've seen many people who regularly shoot in open carry mode get very fouled up when a stage mandates concealed shooting. They have developed a presentation that does not account for sweeping a jacket or vest from their pistol. Not to single out IDPA (which I think is the best thing going)... many ranges have rules against drawing and shooting, let alone shooting from concealment! Where does that leave the average CCW'er in terms of developing and evaluating their presentation?

Learning and practicing are two different things. When we go off to schools, or work with a new instructor, we should be in a "learning" phase for at least some of the time. During this phase we can develop a new technique and demonstrate mastery of the concept. Later, we enter a practical phase and we find out two things:
1. Can we apply the new technique? (in realistic situations)
2. Is the new technique worth applying? (in realistic situations)
If you show up to a school and refuse to learn a new technique or are not allowed to develop competency in it, I don't believe that you can honestly answer either question in the practical stage.

Jeff White
June 27, 2002, 11:04 AM
Not a lot of martial arts concepts are really applicable to the type of training that ISS conducted and was the subject of the article. It seems to me that the class was more of a Train the Trainer type school where the desired outcome was to allow the students to return to their agencies and incorporate new concepts and techniques into their own programs.

Any type of team (collective) training must be broken down into individual tasks (those that each person must be able to perform) and collective tasks (those that the group must be able to do together). This is very difficult to be successful at when you only have a short period of time and you have a student population of unknown and diverse individual skills. The PT and stressful team exercises were more geared toward quickly developing somewhat cohesive teams from groups of people who were strangers to each other before the class.

For training to be successful it must be progressive. Think crawl, walk, run . In the crawl phase you learn the basic task. Perform it by the numbers and practice by repetition. In the walk phase you will practice the task at normal speed, against a canned scenario if it's force on force. In the run phase, you let the exercise become more of a freeplay scenario. You must conduct an evaluation after every phase and you can't be afraid to go back to the crawl phase if necessary. And don't make the mistake of going to the next phase before you are ready. I would bet that every iteration of this same ISS course is different based on how the students progress. I took "There are no losers" as positive reinforcement for those who were unused to that level of physical and mental stress. People sometimes need that to keep them in the game. Especially when your student population is composed of police officers who may be coming from a sedentary job asignment and private citizens who may be wondering what they bought themselves into.


Rob Pincus
June 27, 2002, 11:40 AM
The "Is this your idea of Team Building?" question was asked by at least a few students directly. The answer was always, "No." Their stated reason for the physical stress was to create a condition in the students that might equate the stress condition of real combat. There was little talk of any team building or team tactics. Of course, most of us realize that you cannot learn under those conditions, only practice (see above).
At first it did seem that they were trying to build teams, but it played very little in practical terms during the course. In fact, the "no losers" concept worked against any possible "team building" aspect of the physical drills.

Once again, it is important to understand that the "No Losers" did not mean "No Failures." They didn't appear to put much stock in making students feel good about themselves. It was more like: "You suck, but at least you can learn from your suckiness, so you are not a loser." ;)

Jeff White
June 27, 2002, 12:38 PM

They were teaching techniques and procedures that are foreign to most police officers and armed citizens here in the US. And they purported to teach them under the stress of combat .

I'm not sure I agree that that's the way to accomplish that mission, but I wasn't there. You were there, what did you take out of it? Do you feel confident that you could take what you learned about Israeli tactics, techniques and procedures back to your agency and incorporate what you felt was usable into their "toolbag"?

What did you take with you that you feel might be better then some of the ways we presently approach tactical problems?


Rob Pincus
June 27, 2002, 12:58 PM
When you re-read the article, I hope you'll see that I didn't agree with their approach. That's the point of this thread, their approach didn't work. Their tactics and techniques probably have little or no place in US Law Enforcement Training.

The promise of ISS was that they were going to "re-evaluate" their approach and try again to find a way to integrate some of their stuff into training for US LE. One idea that they were kicking around was running a hard-core "Officer Survival" school.

To answer you questions specifically, yes, they were trying to teach in a stress-filled environment. Of course, I must've absorbed something, since I wrote an article about it, but it was not the best "learning environment." What we learned of the techniques was developed through repetition and it seemed to work to a certain extent: students were able to complete drills using the recommended techniques, most of which were foreign to them. Do I think that means we should all adopt this "teaching" technique? No.

Quite simply, there was nothing new that was taught at the school that I thought would be a "better way to approach tactical problems."
Where they over the top? Absolutley, particularly for the time frame and mixture of students that they had to work with. But they did remind (or suggest to) a lot of people that stressful training is a lot different than what we normally do. I know that at least one student took one of the aggressive training drills back to his team ( I saw him integrate it into his team's AT). I'd guess that others did as well. That was the real benefit to the course: Hopefully, people took some of that aggressiveness, toned it down and worked it into their training at home. If you took away the top 10% of the "all-out" nature of the 2 days, you probably could've eliminated 50%+ of the injuries and distractions and you still would've been much more demanding than the average LE "stress course" or "practical excercise."