US Air Marshals Will Now Sit In The Back Of Planes

The US has had a federal air marshal program for many years. Nowadays this is under the supervision of the Transportation Security Administration, and the program has an annual budget of nearly a billion dollars.

The federal air marshal program doesn’t have much to show for their work, as they’ve never actively stopped anything. There have, however, been many incidents involving air marshals, where they leave guns behind, or air marshals themselves get arrested.

Since they’re not actively stopping terrorism, air marshals have taken up other tasks, like running what they call the “Quiet Skies” program, where they track an average of about 35 ordinary citizens every day on planes.

They’ll observe everything about them, like if they use the lavatory, if they engage in conversations, if they text, if they stopped while in transit through the airport, and more.

Anyway, up until now air marshals have typically sat at the front of the plane. This has either been in first class, or towards the front of economy. Air marshals typically travel in pairs, so some flights might have two, while others have four.

In my experience when there are two, they’re usually in first class, while when there are four, two might be seated towards the front of economy (always in an aisle seat, typically looking bored as heck, and always with a bulge around their ankle).

Anyway, ABC reports that starting December 28, 2018, air marshals will also start to be assigned economy seats towards the back of the plane.

While air marshals were previously tasked with “guarding” the cockpit, the idea is that with these changes, air marshals would be able to observe other passengers and stop any acts before they’re even able to occur.

Of course the TSA has declined to discuss the specifics, citing the need for operational details to be kept secret, though they insist that it’s important for the agency to change their routine to “keep pace with new and emerging threats.”

A TSA spokesperson had the following to say:

“In an effort to address evolving threats to aviation security, TSA continues to optimize in-flight security efforts; training and tactics are routinely reviewed and updated based upon intelligence. TSA continues to enhance its ability to utilize intelligence in order to best deploy FAMs worldwide to detect, deter and defeat any potential hostile acts onboard commercial U.S. aircraft.”

As you might expect, air marshals aren’t happy about this at all. I sure wouldn’t be happy to go from first class or extra legroom economy to the back of the plane. Since they’ve been so wildly successful performing their jobs, they feel like they shouldn’t be changing things up.

A representative for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association had the following to say:

“The TSA wants to change the way operations are carried out, and the men and women of the Federal Air Marshal Service do not support these changes. The TSA, riddled with their own organizational issues, should allow the air marshals to do what they have continued to do best — fly operationally sound missions to protect the integrity of the aircraft, its crew, and passengers in the manner that they have been training and perfecting for the last 17 years.

Changing deployment methodologies and the manner in which we conduct business is absolutely unnecessary and does not pass the common-sense test — especially during the busiest travel season of the year.

The men and women who perform these vital worldwide national security missions do not support and vehemently disagree with the proposed changes.”

Bottom line

Personally I don’t think the air marshal program is especially useful, so I’m happy to see that they’ll be taking up fewer premium seats. At the same time, I sort of feel bad for them as well. Flying around constantly is tough enough, but doing so in the back of economy is even rougher.

At the same time, I’m not sure if I’m more amused by the perspective of the TSA, or the perspective of the air marshal representatives.

What do you make of this change to the air marshal program?

Comments

  1. I love you Ben and this blog. But saying the air marshals have never stopped anything is pretty outrageous logic.

    The US hasn’t used an atom bomb since 1945, should we scrap the program or does the act of having them ready serve a purpose?

    For someone who flies as much as you, especially on international flights into the US that are ripe targets, I’d think you’d be pretty happy there was some measure of protection.

    Plus if premium seats were easier to get you wouldn’t have as much fun finding them and telling us about it

  2. I have a neighbor that is a FAM. It sounds like a horrible job. Chronic fatigue, long & boring days, lack of job satisfaction, terrible management, etc. He took a leave of absence to save his marriage. He said it’s good money and benefits, but not worth it long term. They really should rotate and do investigative duties or some other beneficial activities. BTW they don’t use ankle holsters.

  3. Colossal waste of money employing people to fly around. Can the money be directed to prevent the drug companies who have zoned out America with dozens of people dying daily? Or spend the same helping vets with PTSD? More BS from the security at any cost crowd.

  4. I agree with Brian. It is about deterrent and making bad actors have to consider the risk that there might be 4 armed marshalls on the plane they might consider hijacking.

  5. I’ve been a blog reader for several years and am a fan but I found this article quite insensitive to 9/11 and efforts to prevent anything like it to happen again. If you were on flights AA11, UA175, AA77, or UA93 on 9/11, would you have wanted air marshals to sit at the back of the plane?
    If something like 9/11 does happen again, I bet in hindsight that those premium pax would have happily traded their premium seats to an air marshal who was sitting at the back.

  6. @Brian I have to agree. The program clearly has had some problems and the surveillance program is at best deservedly controversial and at worst Orwellian nonsense. Still, to say “they’re not actively stopping terrorism” is totally ignoring the deterrent effect. If there are had been an Air Marshall on any of the 9/11 flights we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. I sat next to one on a flight from LGW to EWR many years back (circa 2006) after that route and others had been very publicly targeted and I appreciated the extra security.

    I absolutely love the blog Ben and read everyday but this post is bit myopic.

  7. @Brian. The atom bomb use is a very poor analogy. United States is the only country to have used the bomb and is likely to have used more if the Russians also had not gotten one. The Vietnam War Ken Burns documentary also talks of secret plans to use nuclear weapons in vietnam. Atomic weapons are not a deterrent if you were the first to get one.

  8. @ Bossman — Fair enough and appreciate the constructive feedback, but I think it’s a bit too “Monday morning quarterback-ey” to say “if we had air marshals on 9/11 flights it wouldn’t have happened.” Similarly, if we had reinforced cockpit doors and we knew about aviation terrorism what we learned from that, it would have never happened — they wouldn’t have been able to get into the cockpit. 9/11 completely changed how we viewed hijackings. Previously they were primarily negotiation tactics, and it made sense to give in to demands to avoid one or two people being killed by the hijackers. Obviously that radically changed after 9/11.

  9. @ Rob — Quite to the contrary, I feel less safe with air marshals onboard. They’re extremely easy to identify (they stick out like sore thumbs), and they are often quite reckless. They’ve in the past left guns in the lavatories. I’d be more concerned that terrorists could overpower the air marshals and use their weapons against them.

    But then again, with the number of weapons that the TSA misses at security checkpoints, there wouldn’t even be much of a need to do that.

  10. @ Brian — All fair points, and appreciate your thoughts. I still find it outrageous we spend a billion dollars per year on this program. What concerns me more is how highly ineffective the TSA is. And as I said above, I don’t feel safer with air marshals onboard. They’ve repeatedly proven themselves to be reckless.

  11. Air Marshals IMHO make thing so worse. Bringing guns into a crowded gun free environment make things more dangerous. The prison system learned this a long time ago. The deterrent effect of Air Marshals is hard to quantify, but locked cockpit doors and general awareness do far more than any group of goverment workers bringing guns with them into a cabin. I’ve always found the argument “Why don’t you ask the 911 victim what they would have wanted?” a bit specious. In a democracy the most affected individuals don’t get to make the laws, the populace as a whole does. When one argues that the individuals that are most affected by a law should decide on the law, he or she is essentially arguing for an dictatorship.

  12. I’m also curious for those with a different take on the program than me, do you support this change? Because the air marshal association seems vehemently opposed to this change, though maybe someone could help me understand the benefit of protecting a reinforced cockpit door, rather than observing passengers from the back (as they’ll be doing now, which makes more sense)?

  13. I really doubt Air Marshals would have stopped 9/11. It disrespects 9/11 to “but 9/11!!!” every argument. That’s how we ended up in Iraq for no reason.

  14. I was not going to comment but I have to chuckle at all the commenters defending the Air Marshalls because of the deterrent effect. LOL, they’ll have the same effect sitting in the back of the plane, plus they will now actually be able to see the people they are spying on.

    The air marshalls recruit employees for a boring job by wildly overpaying. If they don’t like their rotten job, they are welcome to quit and get a more interesting but lower paying job at any time.

  15. @Stvr two wars in Iraq for no reason ? The US didn’t become a superpower for no reason.

    I think about 9/11 everyday . It’s more than just a never forget meme people post on Facebook once a year so I support the us air marshall program.

  16. Wait until they have to fly the 737-Max! Why do they never seem to be on planes that have the crazies acting up that force planes to make unscheduled stops?

  17. I think that the TSA employees do yeoman’s work in a particularly unrewarding job. I think it is particularly disappointing that Ben, who has in the past shown his libertarian political leanings, made these disrespectful comments at a time when TSA agents are not getting paid due to the Trump government shutdown.

  18. This is a somewhat circular discussion because we don’t really know what the rates of incidents would be if there were no air marshals on board. You can’t really quantify the deterrent effect, but to say definitively that we’d be safer without them on board isn’t really fair.

    Also do we know if there are agents on every flight? Or do they only say they have agents on every flight? Because even in the latter scenario you would still get some of the deterrent effect, with lower cost. And how does it work budget-wise? Does the government compensate airlines for seats occupied by marshals or are airlines required to absorb the costs?

    Finally how does this work on big multi-cabined planes like the 777s and (no longer in the US) 747s where you simply can’t get a view of the whole shebang from a single seat?

  19. so TSA implemented a change & even “The men and women” (employees) dont like it. – what is new?

    it’s always conflicting views among people, never ending, never changing, never going anywhere

  20. @Adi T:

    there are not Air Marshals on every flight (not nearly enough of them to do that)

    The airlines are not paid for (or reimbursed for) the seats that the Air Marshals occupy.

  21. Is this something they do only do within the US or is it done on international flights as well? If so, only on US airlines or on any airline flying to/from US?
    I would have some trouble imagining that non US airlines would allow gunmen on board. Quite a scary thought.

    Btw what do they plan to do with the guns at 10km altitude? Blow some holes in the plane?
    This whole thing sounds like an extremely bad idea to me.

  22. Another tribal argument. We don’t actually know whether the FAM program has delivered. Arguments in this thread are mostly tribal or theoretical. Suggesting others are unacceptably disrespectful to the memory of 9/11 victims (nonsense) or that supporters of FAM program are “White Republican scum” (nonsense) are clear evidence that the arguer has nothing useful to say.

    My sense is that we’d need to know more about “operational” matters before we could assess the value of the FAM program. With some real data, I’d be comfortable debating this issue with people who agree:
    1. we’re all heartbroken about 9/11
    2. we’re all patriots to decency, truth
    3. we’re all grownups, interested in learning more, even if it disrupts our existing beliefs

    …but I’m not sure the debate is useful unless we had good stats on the incidents FAMs have been involved in, the failures or mistakes, the cost, the rationale behind their stance on the “back of the plane” edict. I guess what I’m naively pining for is transparency, since it’s our money.

    “There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for everything, but Security forbids its disclosure.”

  23. @Ron you are right. Some countries might have a FAM-like program, but they don’t disclose it publicly and the agents might possibly have a different toolbox. Not being American, they might not see a Gun as a natural option in a pressurized tube full of innocent civilians miles in the air.

    Or, the other countries might calculate that since no onboard incident ever ever ever has been solved with a gun (and couldn’t have been solved without one), that the Gun idea perhaps needed additional thought.

    “To a hammer, all are as nails”

  24. To argue that other countries don’t have a FAM program therefore we Americans are crazy to waste our money is ridiculous given that no other country went through a 9/11 event and no other country is a bigger target to terrorists than than the USA. To argue that the FAM program is a failure because it hasn’t stopped anyone is equally ridiculous because it ignores the concept of deterrence and we don’t know what plots have been stopped because the Government isn’t under any obligation to disclose their security efforts to the public for obvious reasons. If paying a few dollars a flight for physical security offends your Libertarian leanings, then fly private, drive or take a ship.

  25. Here’s what I think is an easy way to address this issue. Since the deterrent is the threat of the (and not the actual) presence of an air marshal aboard the plane, let’s publicly continue the program but privately reduce the number of flights with FAMs aboard until there are none.
    Everyone wins — passengers because the illusion of safety is still there — FAMS win because they no longer have to fly and can do other more satisfying work — the public wins because the cost of the air marshal program is very low.

    Or have I drunk too much eggnog:-)

  26. @Ron:

    FAM’s are only on US airlines, but they are on both domestic and (select) international routes.

    Many foreign airlines have similar programs with armed agents on board their flights, including those to the USA.

    A bullet hole (or even several) in a pressurized fuselage will not cause depressurization.
    Now if it takes out a window, damages a flight control or critical component, or takes out a pilot, then it could be a big problem.

  27. @JEff

    Tx for the clarification. Then let’s hope they have been trained to not aim at the pilots and windows.

  28. If their core job function is to do surveillance then seating them in the front of the plane where they can’t see anyone behind them defeats that purpose. Full stop.

  29. @ Paul I totally agree! @ debit get over your white hate…geeze I wish we could go back to the days where people were adults about politics.

  30. China Southern have used air marshalls for some years on all their international flights. I was impressed seeing this super fit man scanning all our faces as we were boarding the flight in AMS. He then walked through the cabin, rather slowly, again scanning our faces. During the flight, he stayed mainly in the pointy end but took regular walks through all cabins. I figured that he was mainly in the pointy end because he did not sleep and he could make himself cups of tea during the flight, have little chats with the crew and guard the pilots.
    I certainly did not envy him his job on these long haul flights but am sure that his (to me obvious) presence had a calming effect on potential trouble makers. No danger of dogs barking at him because other nations do not seem to need emotional support animals while flying.

  31. Using 9/11 as some emotional reason is WRONG and irrational.

    That day succeeded due to the policy of cooperating with hijackers and lack of hardened cockpit.

    Shame on those that continue to ignore those simple facts.

  32. Air Marshals are a deterrent to yesterday’s threat. UA93 showed that even by the end of the day on 9/11, no hijacker would ever again be able to try and storm the cockpit unopposed from the regular passengers. Locked cockpit doors make it tougher still. Better to spend the money elsewhere to fight the new threats, whatever they may be.

  33. @Lucky – if you are going to continue letting idiots like Debit say things like “white Republican male scum ” and other nonsense, it will be time to stop reading this post. You do a poor job of managing this site anyway. I guess your’re just in it for the money and the free travel .

  34. @Ben (not Lucky) – there are lots of ways to bring a plane down and/or kill passengers without breaching the cockpit. If a terrorist had a knife to my throat, I’d rather rely on an Air Marshall than you to save me. An Air Marshall on the German Wings flight with the suicidal pilot who flew it into the French Alps might have been able to breach the cockpit door and save those poor people. I’ll take the Air Marshall.

  35. “By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.”
    “Oh, how does it work?”
    “It doesn’t work.
    “Uh-huh.”
    “It’s just a stupid rock.”
    “Uh-huh.”
    “But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?”
    “Lisa, I want to buy your rock.”

  36. Waste of money just like everything else the government does. Make the Airlines be responsible and the costs would go down

  37. There may be some actual or theoretical benefit from the air marshals . However it doesn’t seem necessary for them to always fly up front . I do feel sympathy for them if it always at the back though . Maybe they could alternate and fly up front every tenth flight . After all they are getting paid real money . It’s a rare job where you get paid well to do something you would enjoy doing for free .
    For another aspect of this discussion people frequently complain about the burden of airport security and frequently criticize TSA for not finding all contraband . I feel certain these must not be the same people , or maybe they are .

  38. For those convinced Air Marshals actually accomplish anything, remember a few years ago when it was revealed that the Air Marshals scheduled their flights to coordinate sex romps with civilians and fellow Marshals?

    And remember, we are spending $1 billion a year on the FAM program. That’s a lot of money.

  39. By and large, the great majority of comments supports the TSA and its Air Marshal Program in their efforts. And what a perfect job for Ben as he transitions his career after deciding to turn this blog over to someone else.

  40. You are all completely clueless as the the effectiveness of this deterrent. It’s very easy 17 years after 9/11 to talk about how useless the Air Marshall’s are. @Lucky- The recklessness you talk about is so isolated it’s virtually non existent. These guys fly every single day all over the world on thousands of flights. To assume that the recklessness is somehow routine and or rampant is naivety at its best. Im also going to make an assumption here that you have zero actual working experience or knowledge as it relates to intelligence or security. My advice, stick to what you know. Enjoy those warm nuts and sparkling water in premium. As someone who flew days after 9/11, where airports were virtual ghost towns, I’d put my money on the Air Marshall’s to keep the airline industry in business.

  41. Interesting comments.
    Some people just love Security Theater, especially when it’s not on their own dime.
    It’s clear we continue to react to the past and are totally myopic towards the future.
    Air Marshal or not, does anyone here think passengers are going to sit idly by again like sheep!?
    I think not.
    If on less than 1% of flights, a 1% deterrent is no deterrent at all.
    To bring up our nuclear weapons program again, we had 30,000 weapons at the height of the Cold War, had we had less than 300, it would not have been much deterrent.

  42. Chinese airlines have a security person on board who can report the criminal activity and if it is bad enough the passengers face consequences. It’s not like they do anything on their airplane, but having them there keeps people in control of themselves. May be we shall see fewer incidents on US-operated planes.

  43. How do you know they’ve never stopped anything? How do you know the benefit they do or don’t provide?

    Before you try and hold yourself out as an authority on this, I’d recommend you advise your audience that what you had written is your opinion only. Not fact. Which is how you portrayed your initial paragraphs.

    Yet another example of the nose dive in Ben’s writing and his blog.

  44. People continue to forget the main reason 9/11 happened as it did.

    It was POLICY to cooperate with hijackers at that time.

    And, the cockpit was easily accessible.

    Air Marshalls on those flights may or may not have made a difference.

    Please be rational folks.

  45. Why not cut the budget to 1/10 of what it is, and only have them on high risk international flights? Is there really a need for an air marshall on a domestic flight like Topeka-anywhere in the US?

    After 9/11 this program was instituted as a knee jerk reaction and nobody really knew what was going on. But now that we have a better idea of terrorism, why not fine tune the resources?

  46. Fortunately, in the coming decades human commercial pilots will be phased out as autonomous systems gain general acceptance and Air Marshals will be also be eliminated. Good riddance!

  47. Airlines get a full fair tax write off on all seats used by FAMS.

    There are thousands of FAMS who take there job very siriously

    Instances of misconduct and errors are no more common then any other federal agency

    The hardened cockpit door delays forced entry not prevents it. Utube it .. there’s video.

  48. Lucky, I absolutely love this blog, and I love that you bring up topics of discussion like this. Regarding the air marshal topic, I would like to know what you thought about flying El Al versus U.S. airlines. El Al is alleged to have at least two air marshals on every single flight, versus less than an estimated 1% of U.S. flights having air marshals. I don’t know what the numbers are exactly of course, but it’s safe to say that your more likely to have air marshals on an El Al flight than a flight on a U.S. airline. My question would be that did you feel more or less secure on El Al flights versus flights on U.S. airlines? My guess is that you probably felt more secure on El Al flights, and in part because of the presence of their air marshals. El Al has proven that the presence of air marshals can both be a deterrent as there hasn’t been a “successful” El Al hijacking since 1968, and effective as El Al flight 219 from Tel Aviv to New York in September 6, 1970 proved, when a Shin Bet officer on the flight successfully repelled two potential hijackers armed with a gun and two grenades. More recently, in 2002, they successfully repelled a potential hijacker armed with a knife on flight 581 from Tel Aviv to Istanbul. The U.S., and U.S. airlines have been and will continue to be targets of terrorism, the result (in part) of a proactive foreign policy (similar to Israel), and as a result U.S. airlines will continue to need air marshals on flights, even if they only serve as a deterrent. Seeing that the hijacking of a U.S. airliner hasn’t taken place since 9/11, I would assert that they (air marshals) are serving very well as a deterrent…..

  49. Air Marshal program is comete waste of money.

    Covering only 1% of flights it would not prevent another 9/11. On the other hand, things like better TSA scrennig (unfortunately still not where it should be), reinforced cockit doors and different attitude towards hijacking would reduce probability of another 9/11. So maybe the money would be better spent at enhancing airport security and better screening of foreign visa applicants?

    Having armed people on 1% of the flight significantly increase risk of things going wrong. Just like suicidal pilots we will have suicidal / crazy Air Marshalls, it’s just a matter of time before it happens.

    And those who bring topic of terrorist threat in the US should also take a closer look at US foreign policies and try to understand why there is such a threat.

  50. Just a few thoughts to add, admittedly all in defense of the FAM program. First, FAMs are certainly not the only armed law enforcement officers (LEOs) onboard flights….any US 1811 (Special Agent) is authorized to fly armed, even on personal travel, and usually required to fly armed when on official duty. Depending on the circumstances, local and state LEOs can also fly armed, even between states. US 1810s (like most Deputy US Marshals) are also authorized to fly armed. With that in mind, you’d have to guess that around 1,000 non-FAM US LE personnel make a flight within the US, while armed. Second, to anyone who thinks they can spot the FAMs, you undoubtedly have no idea. Don’t fool yourself into thinking they stand out like a sore thumb. Third thought, FAMs are generally considered the best shooters in US LE. Sure, you’ll find some FBI or NCIS agents or some LAPD SWAT guys that can outshoot some FAMs, but from top to bottom, program wide, FAMs are the most consistent. Will some of their shots miss? Certainly. But like all shooters, they are trained to be very careful as to their target, the immediate background, and beyond. Novices worry only about the target, and never see, much less consider, what is behind the target. As Jeff wrote above, putting a few 9mm or. 40 holes in a fuselage will not cause depressurization. Ron, rest assured FAMS have spent a huge amount of time training to shoot, under pressure, through a variety of scenarios. By the way, no FAM I ever met started their LE career as a FAM…they started with Border Patrol, local city cops, etc. They have years of experience before going through the FAM’s program. As for being myopic about the future, as Richard writes above, I think you might be a bit shortsighted yourself. For the sake of argument, let’s say the very same TSA that everyone criticizes for doing such a poor job allows two passengers to board with firearms. Now Richard’s argument about fellow passengers not allowing another 9/11 is invalid, as those two armed hijackers will quickly eliminate the unarmed passengers that try to intervene. As noted above, with time and training, the cockpit door is not a complete guarantee. So what does that leave us? A FAM. Also bear in mind, this is a layered approach, like any approach to trying to protect a population. FAMs form the last layer, with other programs in a variety of other agencies providing prior layers. I don’t know the numbers, but even if FAMs are on only 1% of the flights, they are on the flights that at that particular week/month have the most risk, as determined by the other programs providing those other layers. Folks, this is all common sense, but it appears very few people reading this blog (or writing it) want to apply a bit of thought to this. And for the last 17 years, despite an almost daily threat, this layered approach, with FAMs being just one layer, has worked. Regarding Lucky’s comment, made several times, about FAMs having many incidents. I’d bet my life on a single FAM long before I’d bet my life on you, and three of your closest buddies thrown in to help. It’s easy to lob uninformed criticism from the cheap seats…correction, those expensive first class seats. You are at your best providing insight into reward points, which you do a great job of.

  51. A quick note: you’d have to guess around 1,000 non-FAM LEOs make a flight within the US, while armed, DAILY. In my editing of that sentence I accidentally removed ‘daily.’

  52. Ash, Thank you for your insightful and well reasoned post. It’s particularly appreciated that you are analyzing this issue objectively and based on facts rather than political leanings. (One big issue I have had with Gary of View From The Wing is that his posts as often as not reflect libertarian leanings and I think that, based on this and other posts, Ben shares that viewpoint).

  53. Change is never easy and we need to value engineer this program. I sit in First Class quite often and let me reassure you that I have no clue what is going on in the back of the airplane. Major changes to the aircraft like the cockpit doors, the see through curtains, training, etc. have helped quite a bit. The airlines are also doing a better job with threat assessments. I am fine with not having my taxes go toward higher fares and having the air marshals in coach to see a broader picture of the flight operation.

    Work always has it’s pluses and minuses and companies need to change procedures in order to cut costs and/or find better ways to manage their business. Why should we exempt our government from doing the same?

    Hats off to TSA for recognizing that changes are needed and let’s monitor how many leave these positions due to the changes? Last time I checked, many government jobs have great wages and benefits. In researching the salaries ranges, it seems they average from $46,950 to $82,417. Considering that you only need a high school diploma or associates degree, the pay range is pretty good.

  54. @ Glass Half Full – a high school diploma is the minimum requirement…it won’t get you hired as a FAM. To be competitive, a candidate will also have several years of existing LE experience, usually as a local police officer. Those candidates who were SWAT while a local cop will be even more competitive. Candidates who were SOF combined with local LE will be very competitive. But if you think the average Joe with a HS or AA degree, and nothing else, will be a competitive candidate for a FAM job…I really just laughed out loud. In reality, an agency like NCIS, for example, will list minimum requirements for a position as a US Special Agent (1811). Those minimum requirements (and the same applies to every US 1811 agency): US citizen, 21-37 y/o, Bachelors degree, clean criminal history, and physically in decent condition. Will that get you hired? No. An agency might want to hire 48 Special Agents a year; when they advertise, they’ll get 5,000 applications. So if you want to be competitive, and this also applies to FAMs, you’d better have a heck of a lot more to offer than the minimum. In a FAM’s case, you’d want extensive tactical experience and training…in a Secret Service agent’s case, or an FBI agent’s case, you’d want an advanced degree in a foreign language, forensics, accounting, computers, and it never hurts to have proved your mettle with a few years experience as a local cop.

  55. Speaking as an Australian who recently travelled the States, personally I’d rather they be treated well like kings. It would also show how much of an emphasis we place on human life security vs empty profit.

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