Authors: D. C. Gonzalez
“At this point you understand
that—whether positive, negative, or anywhere in between—all emotions are
created by what we are thinking. You understand that the stronger the warrior
is able to build his self-belief system the better. You understand that
self-belief, a good attitude, confidence, and positive self-talk are what “get
things going.” You understand that emotions affect performance. So if bad
emotions arise, you understand there are ways you can learn to control their
impact on your performance. Right?”
He gave me an odd look.
“Yes,” I corrected.
“Good. Then you also know how
imagery, focused breathing, and relaxation all help to give us a mental edge over
“Very tricky,” I teased him.
“Be serious now, Danielsan, and
pay close attention, because today we must talk about anger . . . We all get
angry; this is normal. Yet you must always remember that if the warrior does
not control his anger it will always end up controlling him. And when that
happens, victory will be much more difficult. You see, anger is an emotional
response. Before the emotion is allowed to take control, the warrior must
redirect its energy. Real champions work to develop an ability to control their
anger so that it cannot hurt their performance.”
I grappled with this: “Do you
mean that they end up no longer feeling this kind of emotion?”
“Not at all. I mean that they
have learned how to channel such an emotion so that it won’t affect their focus
and performance in a negative way. With anger, once the emotion comes up—or
boils up!—real champions make a deliberate choice to use the energy but not
allow themselves to lose control to it and fall victim to it.”
“They ask themselves, “Who is
in charge here?—Myself? Or this fury inside myself?” By that simple act, the
warrior spirit begins to regain control. And that control begins with a simple
choice, a decision. The warrior decides to channel the anger into making his
resolve stronger still. He redirects the anger into tough play. He creates a
stronger resolve to beat the competition and to raise his own level of play.
Rather than losing control to the anger, he becomes like a smiling assassin;
he’s mad, yes, but it’s a cool, calculating mad. He is using the intensity and
the passion of the emotion, yet he doesn’t lose control to it. The champion
knows that in order to perform well he must stay in control. How else can he
expect to control his performance?”
“OK, so how does one manage the
intensity of the emotion?” I asked him.
“It always starts with a choice
to not let it control you.” said Leo-tai. “Concentrate and use focused
breathing to help manage the intensity. Use internal self-talk with suggestions
like: Stay Cool; Relax; Be Calm—to help you stay in control. Imagery and
relaxation techniques are also powerful tools that can be used to manage the
intensity of an anger reaction. All of these—worked on and practiced—will
help. But there must first, always be a choice.
“And Danielsan, if you should ever
feel that you must vent your anger, remember that it's better to do it
privately, so that you do not shake the confidence of the team’s trust in you.
To let them see you lose control, even if you felt you needed it for yourself,
can only hurt that trust.”
Remember: If anger arises,
make the decision to not let it control you. Redirect its energy; use it to
make your resolve stronger. Become like the smiling assassin that sees his
Art of Mental Training
All the typical, normal radio
traffic was abruptly shattered. “Shots fired! Shots fired! Agent down! One
Zero Eight to Control we need help! Agent down!”
On calls like that the
com-center responds with a three beep burst that signals everyone to clear the
airwaves. Three loud “Beeeeeps”, and then: “All units standby—Shots fired,
Shots Fired. One Zero Eight say your location.”
“One Zero Eight near the Northwest
corner of 5th and Hines - Location 3, we’ve been ambushed! Agent down with a head
wound! "Agent down!" You could hear gunfire over the radio, while
the emotion in his voice sent chills down my spine.
“Repeat—we are pinned down, we
need backup, we need paramedics at Location 3. Two Zero Nine is down with a
head wound. Oh my God - hurry - send help!”
“All units, all units, shots
fired, agent down, location 3, all units respond,” directed the voice from the
The call struck me like a punch
in the face. I shook off my disbelief and jumped into action. I was
partnering with the case agent that night—an experienced and highly respected
veteran. Jake and I looked at each other. Those were our guys on the radio.
This was really happening to us. A routine surveillance had turned deadly
Within minutes other agencies
of our Federal task force and the local police were responding. They began to
as quickly as possible set up a perimeter barrier around the area in order to
keep the shooter contained. Paramedics and all available units were on the
The idea is to close the
perimeter. No one gets in or out. One of the task force agencies began to set
up a command post at nearby parking lot.
traffickers can be ruthlessly violent. Tonight they’d proved it once again.
My heart was pounding as we raced towards the scene.
When something like this
happens, the only people on the radio should be those that are on the scene.
Everyone else should be listening for details. Where are the shots coming
from? Which direction should we not approach from? Where is the downed
agent? The goal is to clear a path to him, push back any attack, and render
By the time we sped on to the
scene it was getting dark, the perimeter was in place, and there was an airship
overhead. Our immediate goal was to reach the agent who had been shot. As we
approached there was a patrol car guarding the part of the perimeter that
blocked our access.
“Can’t go in,” said one of the
We identified ourselves with
credentials and badges.
Despite that he still refused:
“Sorry, guys. The command post says no one in or out.”
“The command post? Listen, I’m
the case agent,” Jake asserted. “I’m telling you to move your vehicle or I’ll
push it out of the way with my car. Do you understand? We have an agent down
in there and his partner is calling for help. We’re going in!”
The officer complied, moving
his car. As he closed the perimeter behind us once again, the airship above
immediately noticed us entering and came on the radio asking us to ID
ourselves. (Our undercover cars didn’t have large identifying numbers on the
roof as police cars do.)
“Fed 2-7 is rolling in.” I
“Air-3 to Shop-2-7; be advised
that you are heading into the kill-zone. Stop. Do not proceed. Back up.”
Jake grabbed the mic from my
hand. “Air-3,—Fed 2-7. Point us to where the agents are—repeat—direct us to
the location of the downed agent.”
“Roger 2-7, continue moving
straight ahead—northbound . . .” But before they could tell us how far ahead, or
anything more, the command post stepped on the airship’s transmission.
“Fed 2-7, you are to report to
the command post immediately.”
Jake and I looked at each
other, wondering who was sending these orders to us.
“Fed 2-7 report back to the
command post immediately—acknowledge!”
Jake was thinking. Finally,
“Negative CP, Fed 2-7 will not
leave the area. We’re going in to find our agents.”
“2-7, exit the area immediately—we
are waiting for a SWAT team. That’s an order!” barked the voice over the
“Negative,” was Jake’s instant
response; as he turned the volume down and looked over at me.
By this time we’d both
recognized the voice as that of a supervisory agent who just happened to be
dating the Assistant US Attorney assigned to the task force. For some reason
he thought he was in charge. The reality was that he was from another agency,
and his own training was flawed. His experience with things like this was
zero, zip, nada; yet he’d dared to assume control. It was clear that the other
agencies liked his idea of waiting around until a special tactical team could
arrive. After all, no one could say for sure where the shooter was.
“Okay, he’s keeping everybody
out and they’re listening to him. We aren’t going to get any help from them.
They’re afraid. If we go back to the command post we’ll be taken out of the
picture. Are you ready to move forward and do this with me?” Jake asked.
“Let’s go.” I told him. “The
chopper said straight ahead.”
Then suddenly - two more shots
rang out. We both ducked instinctively. Our guys were still under fire.
With the sniper still out
there, our best chance of reaching our guys safely and perhaps spotting the
sniper's muzzle flash, would be if we were on foot. We had our vests, our
MP-5's, our 9mm’s, radios and flashlights. We spilt up and started to move
carefully up the street on different sides, using the darkness, the cars, the
trees and the shrubs as cover. We moved in the direction that we’d been told
our guys would be, using the tight orbits of the airship overhead as a general
guide. Until finally, about another block away in the darkness, we saw what
looked like one of our cars. We moved towards it. It was their car.
When we arrived at the scene
the horrible degree of injury I saw on my friend made me angry. The other
agent, holding his partner’s head together, looked up at us blankly and in
shock. We had snuck up on him. He was dazed. “I thought you guys weren’t
coming, How come they aren’t coming in?” he asked. “What took you so long?
Where’s the backup? Why aren’t they coming in?” He was distraught; as he
continued holding his partners head together kneeling next to him and just kept
repeating, “I thought you guys weren’t coming. I thought no one was coming.”
“Look at me,” Jake told him as
we all crouched low along side of the vehicle. “We’re here. There was never a
point when we weren’t coming. Now listen to me. Tell us where the shots came
from.” The agent pointed. While Jake rendered aid and tried to gather more information,
I scanned the darkness and called in our exact location.
“Fed 2-7 to command post we
need back-up and a rescue ambulance at location 3. We are two houses south from
the corner - we are on the west side – expedite.”
“Negative,” replied the command
“Fed 2-7 needs a rescue
ambulance now! Agent down with a head wound,” I growled into the radio.
“Negative,” was the reply.
“You guys went in against orders, now you can bring him out on your own. No
one else goes in until SWAT secures the area.”
I glanced over at Jake, my
blood was boiling.
This was unbelievable.
Seasoned agents and police officers were listening to this and standing by
acting like cowards while “agent down” calls were being ignored because an
incompetent with rank had taken control of a trailer labeled “Command Post” and
had conveniently; put them all on the sidelines.
Jakes cell phone began to
ring. By now several more of our own guys had begun arriving on the edge of
the perimeter and, having heard the radio transmissions, started calling Jake
directly. They began to penetrate the perimeter just as we had and work their
way in towards us using their cars as targets, while we watched for muzzle
flash. After helping us move the injured agent and his shell-shocked partner
into one of the vehicles that had worked its way to us, we transported our guys
out of the kill zone without any help from the other agencies that were
On the way out we had to start
rescue breathing and CPR; by the time we arrived at the command post we were
drenched in blood. We hurriedly transferred the agent into the ambulance.
Not sending in the rescue
ambulance like we’d requested had cost our colleague precious time. Jake was
on his cell phone when we both saw him coming. “Stay cool,” Jake advised me.
With no concern for our agent -
he made his statement, “You’re both relieved of duty,” he told us, waving his
arm like some sort of magician. “You’re both off this case.”
Jake ignored him as he put his
cell phone away and jumped inside the rescue ambulance that was beginning to
roll away with the injured agent. He looked back at me.
“Secure the crime scene,” he
yelled. “I just activated the SWAT team and the dogs.” And then he was gone.
“What?” I repeated, amazed. I
just couldn’t believe it. The dogs and the SWAT team hadn’t even been called?
While calling around for help,
Jake discovered that the command post had yet to even put out a call for a
tactical unit. I felt a violent anger taking over.
When I turned expecting to
confront the “incompetent in charge” he was already headed back to the command
post trailer. Our guys looked at me. At that instant, I could see things
going in a very bad direction. I didn't want to do what Leo-tai’s teachings
were telling me to do—but I did - and I let him go. I watched the supervisory
agent and his side-kick step back inside the trailer.
It was time to re-focus. “Let’s
go secure the crime scene.” I told our guys. And back we cautiously went into
the kill zone once again, until the tactical team and the dogs eventually
arrived and finally declared the area free of any snipers. The shooter was
I’d just made it back to the
command post area when Jake’s call came through from the hospital. He let me
know that our friend had died.