Jordanian female police, military participate in Bay Area terrorism exercise
By Sophia Kazmi
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 10/15/2011 08:16:23 PM PDT
Updated: 10/15/2011 08:54:49 PM PDT
DUBLIN — A lot of teams have participated in the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Urban Shield training exercise in the past four years, but none quite like this one.
The first all-female team will attend with 30 other teams this year in the homeland security exercise aimed at protecting urban, populated areas.
The seven-member team from the kingdom of Jordan — five military and two police officers — made the journey from the Middle East to the Bay Area to share skills and learn new ones.
As for being the only female team to participate, the captain whose name could not be used because of the country’s policy of not identifying officers, said they just want to learn.
“We don’t care if we are female or male,” she said. “We have a job, and we have to do it.”
A handful of other women on mixed-gender teams are participating in the four-day training exercise, which concludes Monday morning. Teams face 32 live scenarios — such as an active shooter, a hostage rescue on the Bay Bridge, a courtroom takeover by a terrorist group, an airplane hijacking, or a chemical agent dispersal — held in various parts of the Bay Area.
The exercise tests teams’ communication, planning and execution skills under life-or-death situations, as well as assessing their stamina. It is the largest of its kind in the United States, costs about $1.3 million and requires nearly a year of planning to produce.
While most of the teams are from Northern California, the event has attracted teams from outside the area. The Chicago Police Department is participating this year.
This year Jordan sent three teams, the Israeli National Police sent a team, and the French have participated in the past.
Ayman Masri, who retired from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office two months ago, was instrumental in bringing the Jordanian teams to Urban Shield. Masri, who now works for Cytel Group Inc., an organization focused on bringing the Urban Shield program to other parts of the United States and the world, said he wanted the Jordanian teams to gain the experience.
His goal is to have the international community participate in Urban Shield. Terrorism, Masri said, goes beyond country, religion and race.
“We are all fighting terrorism these days,” said Masri, who was born and raised in Jordan.
The female Jordanian team will be in town just for the exercise. Asked if her team is excited about the exercise, the team captain smiled:
Contact Sophia Kazmi at 925-847-2122. Follow her at Twitter.com/sophiakazmi.