Keith Walawender, CEO I was
just 17 when I joined the military. All
I wanted to do was be a Navy SEAL. I
did five years with SEAL Team 2 and
eight years with the Naval Special
Warfare Development Group. Eventually, I got injured in combat and
was medically retired in 2014.
I hurt my back in a helicopter
crash overseas. I can’t say anything
else about that crash.
Mike Biller, president and COO I
remember being 12 and riding bikes
with my friends. One kept saying
that becoming a Navy SEAL is impossible—nobody can do it.
I was a little bit talky back then,
and I said, “I can do that. I can defi-
nitely do that.”
I was 17 when 9/11 happened, and
a kid came up to me and said, “That
means we’re going to war. You’re not
going in now, are you?” I said, “That’s
why I am doing this. I do want to go
to war. I do want to fight and kill bad
guys. That’s important to me.”
KW Mike and I were on the same
five-man DevGru team for years. He
ended up having a medical issue as
well, and got out around the same
time as I did.
In our previous life, we’d hosted
law enforcement agencies to teach
them some of our lessons learned. It
was very rewarding. That work was
the genesis of Tomahawk Strategic
Solutions. We also distribute equip-
ment—body armor, Night Vision,
past career, we have become a vendor
for: This is vetted, this works. This is
the best stu; out there.
MB One of our first clients was
Jersey City, New Jersey. They
wanted us to assess their tactical
team—structure, equipment, everything. We didn’t want to be the kind
of company that comes in, trains
a few o;cers for three days, and
leaves. We wanted to get our hands
on training your whole team—get
them integrated with patrol o;cers,
work with the paramedics and firefighters, set up a rescue task force—
and then test that.
We did that for Jersey City, and
then set up a full-blown training
exercise at Newport Centre mall
there, so they experienced all that
integration of di;erent responding
authorities, and got to work face-to-face with o;cers they wouldn’t
have unless a situation arose.
KW Sixteen months later—this past
January—there was a report of an
active shooter at Newport Centre.
It was gang violence up on the third
floor, in the food court. Law enforcement came in using the training that
we’d set up for them, and the only
people injured were the instigators.
Everybody else was safely evacu-
ated. No loss of life. No stampedes.
MB When we talk to people about
active-threat scenarios, we can tell
them what it actually feels like to get
shot at—what it feels like to be the
person on the other side of the door.
All the spaces you deal with in an
active-threat scenario are basically
what we attacked when we were
SEALs. We mostly hire military
veterans and former law enforcement
o;cers—we have o;cers who were
the first responders to the Virginia
KW A lot of our work, for public- and
Keith Walawender and Mike Biller served with one of the Navy SEALs’ most elite teams, the
Naval Special Warfare Development Group—also
known as SEAL Team 6 and DevGru—which undertook the mission that killed Osama bin
Laden. After they left the SEALs, they recognized
their special-ops experience could be invaluable
to law enforcement groups and corporations, and formed Tomahawk Strategic Solutions.
—AS TOLD TO TOM FOSTER