The world's a dangerous place, and David Dose wants to teach you a thing or two about it. A consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense at Fairchild Air Force Base and elsewhere, the 39-year-old Dose makes a living teaching people -- soldiers, spies, diplomats -- how to survive in urban jungles and Third World alleys. And now he's also a college professor. Sort of.
Dose is director of the spiffily titled new "Fort Sherman Institute for Human Protection" at North Idaho College's Workforce Training Center in Post Falls.
The college hopes its new program will attract government agencies and corporations that want their employees trained to cope with overseas crime and hostage situations -- the kind of bad day at the office that might include a ski-masked gunman. A number of private firms offer this kind of training, Dose concedes, but those are much more expensive than the $1,000 range NIC is talking about.
"I think we are looking at a little bit more of a Jeffersonian approach here," Dose says. "Our goal is to offer a world-class product but at a price and a community college level so that what was previously only available to a select few is now available to thousands of people."
Robert Ketchum, assistant vice president at NIC, says the Fort Sherman Institute should begin accepting students by the first of the year. NIC envisions an initial offering of several courses. These won't be college classes, but intensive workshops lasting several days. The basic course will focus on threat awareness for people who often travel abroad. An advanced course would increase the intensity of the training, with some introduction to anti-terrorism ideas, hostage survival skills and some role-playing on how to keep one's wits and emerge alive.
The idea is to submit students to short, controlled and realistic role-playing, Dose says, something that "inoculates them to the stresses that can come with dealing with terrorist or criminal activities."
Think of a forced march in the mountains, held incommunicado for days, "living out scenarios that Americans have found themselves in over the last 20 years," says Dose.
"Are companies really saying they're willing to pay for this?" asks Richard Schatz, a professor at Whitworth College.
Schatz spent 20 years in Asia, including 10 years as high executive in an international aquaculture firm with offices in Burma, Pakistan and Indonesia. Later, as a Whitworth professor, Schatz participated in the development of that school's master's degree program in international management in the early '90s. A small and specialized program, its development and success may hold lessons for NIC.
"I'm not saying they have a bad idea, but it's a stretch to me," says Schatz of the idea that many private companies will pay for anti-terror training.
Any school contemplating a new educational program must research the market, he says. Many exotic college-based programs have fizzled.
So a security school will have to convince businesses and agencies it can provide skills they need and can't get elsewhere. That might be a tough sell, says Schatz. "Of course, somebody has to be the first to start one."
Many government agencies can't get
all the security training they want,
and Fort Sherman Institute is lining up instructors with real-world experience, say Dose and Ketchum. And, of course, the college expects a certain level of interest in security matters after America's bloody acquaintance with mass terrorism.
"The program's been under discussion since July," says Ketchum. "Of course, the attack of September 11 increased the momentum. It was like, 'Whoa! There is a market. We'd better go ahead.' "
That July discussion began as a conversation between Dose and his friend Fred Ostermeyer, a Post Falls investment advisor who is also an NIC trustee.
Dose holds his credentials close to his chest, outlining his experience only in broad terms. He has, he says, an education and law enforcement background. Affiliated with an East Coast security training company, he graduated from several intelligence and anti-terrorism programs and consulted for the Department of Defense for five years, including work at Fairchild Air Force Base (a public relations officer confirms Dose's work there). He has, he says, lived in Idaho for 30 years.
College officials say his background offers the Fort Sherman Institute some insight into the darker corners of the world where Americans sometimes encounter terrorism and other serious trouble. Dose also claims a roster of expert associates he's tapping as instructors. Among these, he says, are people with backgrounds in law enforcement, intelligence and special operations. "We don't plan to offer a course for local people by local people. We plan to offer a world-class course taught by experts from the United States, England and elsewhere," says Dose.
One thing the Fort Sherman Institute's instructors won't be offering is weapons training, according to Dose. The college is "steering more toward human protection training," he says.
So, no guns, just mundane skills like defensive driving, negotiating with terrorists and counter-surveillance -- techniques, Dose says, where "you utilize the brain to escape or reduce dangers."
Sounds pretty exotic, but so did a master's program in international management at Whitworth, says Schatz.
Curiously, in its beginning that fledgling program did not encounter naysayers so much as yea-sayers.
"There's a lot of smoke out there," he says. "It's easy to go to a luncheon meeting or a focus group and say, 'That's wonderful! That would be great for the community! The businesses would be very supportive of that.' But when you start the program, will they actually pay the fees?"
The answer, for Whitworth's program, was yes -- at first. The first couple of years saw high enrollment from area companies, then a drop when the need had apparently been met, says Schatz. So the school had to shift its emphasis, drawing more students from overseas than officials had foreseen. Students from China, Latin America, Eastern Europe and other areas now make up half of Whitworth's 50-person program.
"People abroad love to come to America," says Schatz, and international students are among the "least complaining about paying the bill."
If Whitworth's MIM program has any other lessons for NIC's Fort Sherman Institute, advises Schatz, a critical one is this: A school with a new program must hit the ground running.
"The biggest mistake you can make is doing a bad job with your early groups," he says, adding that the graduates' word-of-mouth is the most effective advertising. "You're completely dead if your graduates of the program say it really wasn't that good. It really won't do any good if you say, 'Stick with us, we're getting better.' "
NIC's Workforce Training Center has proven it can address all sorts of technical needs, so the Fort Sherman Institute is backed by a successful track record, says Ketchum.
"This little college in Idaho may be able to do what no one else can do," he says. With the college's backing and Dose's experience, "We are pretty much ready to go."