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Press Releases / 2009 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 20, 2009



Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and retired General John P. Abizaid, Distinguished Chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA), will officiate the graduation ceremony for 33 FDNY members from the West Point Counterterrorism Leadership Program on Wednesday, May 20 at 11 a.m. at FDNY Headquarters.  These Fire Department and EMS officers bring over 600 years of experience with the FDNY to the program in addition to specialized HAZMAT, Paramedic and Fire Investigation training.

“Since the Spring of 2004, 172 members of this department have taken part in this program,” said Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.  “Those members and this department as a whole are better prepared today because of this partnership between the FDNY Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness and the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.”

The members graduating today spent the last four months in this demanding graduate level course at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point focusing on research in the field of terrorism, counterterrorism, and weapons of mass destruction.  These members studied works by political scientists, government officials, members of the armed forces and other experts in the field to understand the causes, ideologies and methods of terrorism.  The course also covered risks for, and specific threats to, New York City and how current world events shape these threats on a daily basis.

“Counterterrorism training is an area where we have made great strides,” said Chief Salvatore Cassano. “It is imperative that the leaders of this department be armed with tools to make sense of these new threats so that they can make decisions in this very complex and increasingly hostile world.”


Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, United States Army General (R) John P. Abizaid , Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano, Chief or Operations Patrick McNally, Deputy Commissioner Frank Cruthers, Deputy Assistant Chief of Operations Joseph Pfeifer, who is chief of the FDNY’s Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness,


FDNY Headquarters – First Floor Auditorium, 9 Metrotech Center, Brooklyn, NY


Wednesday, May 20, 2009 – 11 a.m.


About General John P. Abizaid
John P. Abizaid retired from the United States Army in May, 2007, after thirty-four years of active service.  After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, he rose from infantry platoon leader to become, at that time, the youngest four-star general in the Army.   At the time of his retirement he was the longest-serving commander of United States Central Command.  During a distinguished career he commanded units at every level, serving in the combat zones of Grenada, Lebanon, Kurdistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Units under his command have included the 1st Infantry Division, a brigade in the 82nd Airborne Division, and two Ranger companies.  Abizaid worked on the Joint Staff three times, the last as Director.  He studied at the University of Jordan in Amman, holds a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University, and is widely considered to be an expert in the field of Middle Eastern affairs.  General Abizaid was recently named the first Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.  He works with the Preventative Defense Project at Stanford University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  He regularly speaks on leadership and international security through the Washington Speakers Bureau.  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.  He currently serves as a Director of the George Olmsted Foundation and USAA.

The Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point
Recognizing the immediate need for a first-rate undergraduate education in intelligence and counterterrorism studies, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point was formed in 2003. The events of September 11, 2001 highlighted the changed and dangerous nature of the international security environment.  The center consists of four components: a Distinguished Chair; a Senior Fellows Program; a Research Program for scholars, faculty and cadets; and an Outreach Program. The Center has provided assistance in the policy arena, highlighting areas that need attention and developing effective policies to address the current terrorist threat. Beneficiaries of the Center are far-reaching, including students throughout the country, government agencies, non-profit institutions and private enterprise. The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point seeks to apply theoretical study and policy analysis in a manner that is useful to our nation’s leaders. Its staff understands the paramount importance of policy-relevant research and education in light of the new security environment. In this way, the Center facilitates educational opportunities and provides policy analysis to enable greater understanding of the threats our nation faces in these troubled times.

About the U.S. Military Academy at West Point
The mission of the U.S. Military Academy is to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country; professional growth throughout a career as an officer in the United States Army; and a lifetime of selfless service to the Nation. The Academy is located approximately 50 miles north of New York City on the west bank of the Hudson River in Orange County, New York. West Point is America's oldest, continuously occupied military installation, first garrisoned on January 20, 1778. The U.S. Military Academy was established by an Act of Congress on March 16, 1802. The 4,000 members of the Corps of Cadets represent every state in the U.S. and several foreign countries. Since its founding two centuries ago, the Military Academy fulfills the same mission as it always has, to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets. It accomplishes this mission by developing cadets in three essential areas: intellectual, physical and military. These developmental paths are balanced and fully integrated into the daily life of each young man and woman at the Academy.

Press Contact: Francis X. Gribbon & Frank Dwyer, (FDNY) (718) 999-2056

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