By Meredith Camp
Today’s top story highlights the unique and thorough components that make up the Federal Air Marshal Training program. Going beyond the obvious fact that it is a really cool job that brings with it a great deal of power and skill, I noticed some qualities about their program that spoke to its thoroughness and superiority. These values could apply to many, if not all, training programs; those in training development should take note.
- Extensive training for highly skilled and expert workers. If you expect a lot out of your employees, the best way to get it out of them is to train them. People come to the Federal Air Marshal (FAM) training program with all different backgrounds and levels of experience, but they all need to know the same things and are required to be able to carry out the same missions. Beginning with a foundation in federal law enforcement sets the groundwork for employees’ logistical, reporting, and field experience, since knowing how to fill out the proper paperwork is just as valuable as knowing how to handcuff a suspect. From there, trainees are taught defensive tactics and given aircraft experience. As with any good training program, the basics are learned in order for the more detailed material to build upon them.
- Essential skills require regular requalification. Firearm training is not just taught once and assumed to be embedded in marshals’ brains permanently; quarterly requalification of this skill is required of all federal air marshals without exception. If there is a highly valuable and challenging skill (especially one that could mean the difference between life or death) that is required of your employees, it is vital that you help them continually brush up in order to maintain those skills. Information can often change and infrequently utilized but vital knowledge can become rusty in a worker’s mind, so keeping them current on everything related to that particular skill will prevent future issues for when those skills are put into practice.
- Realistic training and simulation is hard to beat. The FAM training program uses life size airplane models with environmental simulations in order to train its marshals for specific situational threats. Being in a controlled realistic environment prepares the trainees for the unexpected, putting them under duress while offering the support of colleagues and instructors in case they are unsure about anything. Being able to learn in a realistic setting offers unparalleled experience that prepares students for real life situations better than any Power Point presentation can.
- Coordinating and communicating with other departments or agencies doing the same thing enables synchronization and support. There is a great deal of duplication across government and within individual agencies, so communicating with one another about the efforts of one will help prevent extra work for all and enables best practices to be shared by all. The FAM service joined with state and local law enforcement to help deter and reduce threat. By working together towards a common goal, they create a united front but also reduce duplication of efforts.
Training is also offered to support staff, within and outside of the organization. The Federal Air Marshal service offers basic defensive training opportunities to domestic air crew in order to help prepare them for an attack and enable them to support the air marshals on board the aircraft. By arming all support staff, federal or civilian, with the skills and tools needed to help the “top dogs” do their job more effectively, everyone succeeds in the mission.
- Be known for something, hone the skill, and become the best at it. The FAM training program has the highest qualification standards of all federal law enforcement agencies when it comes to firearm skills. Since man-to-man combat and defensive strategies make up the bulk of an air marshal’s most vital skillset, making that part of the training program second to none brings honor and credibility to the program and all who go through it. Often, an organization can be boiled down to one key component that it is known for; being the best at that not only offers a great deal of integrity and authority to the organization, but it spreads workplace pride across the agency.
How does your organization’s training program shine above the rest?