This post is the first in a four part post that will discuss 3 specific methods and background using real examples to spot police and military trainers that you should likely avoid. The four posts will cover the following topics.
Post #1- An Overview of the Dangers << You are here
Post #2 – Unverifiable Experience, Credentials, and Timelines
Post #3 – Attempts To Be “Cool By Association”
Post #4 – A Cult-like or Financially Motivated Following
John Giduck will be one of a number of our examples in this series if only because he has so many previous claims that are paper thin in terms of credibility or outright false. This initial post uses Giduck as somewhat of a case study to introduce the concepts that will be discussed in the rest of the series.
How John Giduck Came To Our Attention
How did I first come to know John Giduck? In 2012, I was a part time volunteer investigator for a number of veterans groups. My role was to help veterans organizations confirm or disprove primarily SOF service claims using a mix of freely available government resources and open source information. I’d do the research into claims, prepare a package of evidence of the claims, and make a recommendation as to the veracity of the claims – the organization always made the final decision.
Outside of that role, a curious friend sent me an article very similar to the one below that discussed John Giduck’s credentials:
I’ll never forget that another volunteer colleague commented something along the lines of , “looks like this guy invented the internet too”. I was still weeks of investigation away from knowing the full scope of academic dishonesty, false claims, and the level of foreign intelligence risk that John Giduck posed to his seminar attendees. However, at the time I only thought that being a US instructor to a foreign Tier 1 special operations unit outside the scope of a US government organization seemed fishy. Perhaps I am just naturally skeptical. I decided to start with a google search on the Vityaz Special Forces training certification of which I was unfamiliar. Within about 15 minutes of that simple Google search, I found a document similar to the following:
Seven days of training? You can opt out of any training you don’t like? This was the moment that I realized that John Giduck was a fraud as any sort of training instructor. You see, real Spetsnaz training is described as follows:
Spetsnaz training is usually around 50-70 weeks long….It is rumored around 85% of the trainees fail and 3% will sustain some kind of injury or die.
[The training] is located in the town of Balashikha-2, only 10 km away from the Moscow ring. The average training of a solid CSN operative lasts about five years.
Between 1988 and 2004, John Giduck had gone for a masters degree, completed law school, worked as a trade lawyer, and was working as a trial lawyer in Colorado. Accounting for John Giduck’s time in the 1990s and 2000s wasn’t difficult. Never mind the citizenship problems associated with a US citizen attending foreign military training, Russian visas only allow Americans to spend a maximum of 90 days in Russia of a 180 day period. When did John Giduck’s timeline allow for him to spend all of his claimed time in Russia other than this these one week commercial adventure camps? Answer: it didn’t.
John Giduck’s Training Deception Begins
The sad reality I would come to know with more investigation is that, since 2005, John Giduck had made a multi-year career of training police and military that (prior to 2011) was primarily built on a 7 day certification (run by several of Giduck’s own companies, Systema Group), an error filled book about Beslan, and the recommendations of other trainers in the field such as LTC Dave Grossman who seemed to all have a financial interest in Giduck’s success.
Some of the deception included photos taken in russian uniform and training scenarios of the adventure camps.
Giduck even wraps one of his questionable credentials into his book without any type of sugar coating. For example, on page 256 of Giduck’s book, “Terror At Beslan”, Giduck writes:
Let me understand this correctly: a Tier 1 foreign counterterrorist unit just decides to train in aircraft hijackings with a random US guy that they know only went through an adventure camp? This stretches plausibility to the breaking point.
Are you starting to see the danger here if seminar trainees begin taking advice from a guy they don’t know has a full 7 days of operational “anti-terror” training?
Let’s read the first hand description of this training that Giduck says he went through as he describes on page 208 of “Terror At Beslan” and compare it to the “horrors” of the seven days of training that Giduck actually completed:
Now let’s compare the two descriptions:
Balashikha base? Check.
Firestorm Obstacle Course? Check.
Light tanks? Check.
Conditioning exercises? Check.
Smoke from burning tires? See below.
Let’s see how Giduck sycophant Joseph Bail describes the training
SGM Anderson was given permission to go on some of his trips. “The physicality of it was brutal, even by [American] Special Forces standards,” he said. “No one used a mouthpiece and there were no pads. The obstacle course was bad.” Anderson also confirms that all of the trainings he attended were conducted on a brand new compound of Vityaz on the Balashikha Army Base outside of Moscow. “They did everything John has said. This included shooting with Alpha instructors, hostage-rescue and a lot of hand-to-hand combat. They had a new multi-story, live fire shoot house. We lived on base and slept in the barracks.”
I guess the training would be brutal for some given the only qualifications listed in the brochure are that you need to be 18, in reasonably good shape, and able pay the fee. Of course, you can quit at any time just as John Giduck quit after 58 days in US Army basic training without being able to gut it out to the finish.
I believe that there is a fairly big logical leap to think that a guy who couldn’t complete US Army Basic Training could suddenly transform into a Russian special forces consultant. Apparently, we were right.
When we wanted to know more about Giduck’s time with the Russian special forces, Giduck wrote back to say that he had done a “series of trainings with Vityaz [a unit of Spetsnaz, the Russian special forces] at their special forces compound and training school on the Balashikha Army Base about 30 miles east of Moscow from 1999 to 2004″ and had had close access to a series of elite Russian units, including Rus, another Spetsnaz division. When we made inquiries at the Russian Interior Ministry, we were informed that Giduck had not trained with Vityaz. Instead, he took a commercial course in extreme survival skills, with no counterterrorism component. Representatives from Rus said they had never heard of Giduck.
GIduck Presents His Adventure Camp Credentials As Legitimate
What’s most interesting is that rather than hiding this certification, John Giduck flaunted this 7 day certification as being authentic in his biographies for years . Apparently, no one bothered to check or ask. Some examples:
2008: (from the author bio for Giduck’s book, “The Green Beret In You”)
So we searched for other people held this certification and found only two. The below instructor and a guy in Mexico. Both were affiliated with Systema in some way. Since 2012, we’ve not found another person advertising this 7 day qualification.
The Dangers of John Giduck As Tactical Trainer
If John Giduck was only acting in an academic function, the danger he poses as trainer would be limited. That said, John Giduck used his 7 day adventure camp credentials to begin tactical training of police and military units.
Source – archived tactical training of Giduck’s company Archangel Group at https://web.archive.org/web/20070630144519/http://www.antiterrorconsultants.org:80/training_tact.htm
Perhaps you are thinking that John Giduck was only as assistant instructor or just tangentially involved in this training. You’d be wrong. Evidence points to John Giduck making false claims of deep operational expertise since 2004.
Here is a photo from John Giduck’s own website that shows John Giduck training what he claims to be part Russian Tactical Diving Course listed above
In short, with no background as a sworn law enforcement officer, no counter terrorism credentials, no intelligence training, and no actual hostage negotiation experience, John Giduck was making these claims based largely on attendance at several 7 day summer camp style adventure camps and his grueling 58 days of US Army basic training. Seminar participants should ask for their money back.
John Giduck has since talked himself into several international operational gigs. His lack of experience turned these gigs into unmitigated disasters.
Some of the snipers used in both Georgia and Ukraine were trained under an antiterrorism programme prior to the 2008 War, specifically by John Giduck, founder of the Archangel Group, a US-based security and anti-terror training agency.
Giduck was not the obvious choice to run such a programme. He makes his living appointing himself an authority on the tactics and training of Special Forces but had no actual experience of doing this before being appointed to do so on the basis that he DID have such experience.
There are deadly consequences to such on-the-job training. But then this is Georgia, the country which also bought useless bomb detectors, which were in fact golf ball detectors, from conman James McCormick, who is now serving 10 years in jail for selling them.
Giduck advertises himself as a world-calibre authority on radical Islam and counter-terrorism, a claim experts take exception to. He even claims to have been tutored in counter-terrorism by “Putin’s boss,” the former head of the KGB, and trained with Soviet-era Special Forces, during a visit to Russia late in the Gorbachev era. If true, this would disqualify him from being a US Department of Defense contractor in the first place, but apparently Georgia did not see this as an obstacle.
Giduck also claimed to be the training coordinator for Chester Police Department. We have some insight into that training disaster as well.
In January 2012 he [John Giduck] was hired to assist in creating the international intelligence section of the Narcotics & Intelligence Unit of the City of Chester (PA) Police Department and also serves as a training coordinator.
Source: web archive of John Giduck’s own website at https://web.archive.org/web/20130524153425/johngiduck.com/pages/about
Now, let’s look at a lawsuit filed on 28 June 2012 called Rodriguez v. The City Of Chester et al (Case number: 2:2012cv03666). the named defendants are: THE CITY OF CHESTER, THE CITY OF CHESTER POLICE DEPARTMENT, DARREN ALSTON and JOSEPH BAIL, JR.
Here is what has been claimed:
Rodriguez claims in his suit that the Chester Police Department failed to “train, supervise and discipline its officers” and that Chester police “have a history of improper use of force and deadly force.”
Rodriguez also claims he previously warned police management that the department’s firearm training was “substandard, inadequate and insufficiently funded to properly train police officers,” according to the suit. He claims he issued those warnings while serving as a firearms instructor for the department.
The firearms trainer? Apparently John Giduck according to Giduck’s own website.
The Cult Like Following Begins Based on Paper Thin Credentials
Now that you know this, let’s llok at the cult that grew around John Giduck based on these claims. The cult was driven in large part by other trainers who maintain a financial interest on John Giduck’s success. For instance, from the back cover of Giduck’s 2005 book, “Terror At Beslan”
LTC Dave Grossman curiously calls John Giduck one of our nation’s leading experts on terrorism despite a glaring lack of experienceor credentials in 2005. Anyone else curious as to why? You know Giduck’s false operational background now and there is every reason that Grossman knows of Giduck lack of expertise. In 2005, Giduck had no PhD in Middle Eastern Studies or any other formal academic background related to terrorism. Grossman still touts Giduck to this day. If Grossman somehow didn’t know Giduck’s background in 2005, he’s certainly known since 2012 and still refuses to repudiate Giduck.
Author Brad Thor also grossly misled the public about John Giduck. In 2011, Brad Thor on Glenn Beck’s TV show, Thor said this
THOR: I know a little bit about it. John Giduck again is the expert.He’s former military, he’s a law enforcement trainer. John actually speaks Russian and he was there very early on with the siege at Beslan. He has trained some of the Russian special forces members. So he’s very intimate with this, and I think this is something again that’s part of this whole package of the things that Americans need to see and know.
Readers of this blog know almost every word of that statement is incorrect at best and intentionally misleading at worst.
Joseph Bail, now retired Commissioner of the Chester PA Police Department (and AKA “the Invisible Man”) vouched for John Giduck by saying:
From his early training by Russian spetsnaz instructors, John’s continued interest in Russian hand-to-hand combat systems saw him meeting and training with many others from various spetsnaz units. That, and growing friendships with these elite soldiers, ultimately resulted inhim getting to learn to drive Russian tanks, APCs, do underwater combat with their naval commandos (what they call their Anti-SEAL teams), and do counter-terror hostage-rescue training.
Again, all things that lose their luster once the reader know all the things that Joe Bail discusses in the quote also happen to be listed in the adventure camp brochure.
There are numerous other Giduck sychophants out there as part of this cult like following. It isn’t surprising that many trainers with equally questionable training credentials or experience such as Carl Chinn (a facilities man who sat through and rang a facilities alarm in one active shooter incident and evidence shows that he likely froze with his weapon in another) . Most surprising are the law enforcement officers and trainers with real credentials who seem to almost blindly follow a guy like John Giduck despite his 7 day adventure camp credentials.
A trainer with questionable credentials like John Giduck clearly puts people at risk.
So we’ve used a case study around John Giduck to introduce the next three posts in this series. He’ll come up again in the series but we’ll also be using other examples. In the series you’ll lear about specific indicators (the same that we use) and resources that are available to help you identify police trainers that should be avoided. I hope that you follow us deeper into this blog post series.