Evolving Threats Small Arms and Small Unit Swarming Tactics as Tools of Terror...Are We Up To the Challenge?

There is an interesting article written titled Armed jihadist assaults on the horizon?  The article links some of the latest attempts of terror at home Fort Hood, Christmas day bomber and the Times Square attempt as warning to what lies ahead for the United States.

The final link we’d like to consider are the calls in the past few months for jihadists to conduct simple attacks with readily available items. This call was first made by AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahayshi in October 2009 and then echoed by al Qaeda prime spokesman Adam Gadahn in March of 2010. In the Times Square case, Shahzad did use readily available items, but he lacked the ability to effectively fashion them into a viable explosive device.

When we look at all these links together, there is a very high probability that jihadists linked to, or inspired by, AQAP and the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — and perhaps even al Shabaab — will attempt to conduct simple attacks with firearms in the near future.

This article talks of these failing acts and now cries for terrorist to use simpler means to bring about fear, that being small arms rifles and pistols and small unit tactics. The question we should be asking is not IF, its when these attacks take place are we ready to stop them? Are we truly preparing to the level that we frontline officer responding can handle effectively? If not what are we going to do about training to that level? Talking about it does not cut it…Does it?

The article discusses weaknesses the jihadists have in preparing terrorists to advanced levels.

What the jihadists seem to be having a problem doing is finding people who can master the terrorist tradecraft and who have the ability to travel into hostile areas to ply their craft. There seems to be a clear division between the men who can travel and the men who can master the advanced training. The physical and intelligence onslaught launched against al Qaeda and other jihadist groups following the 9/11 attacks has also created operational security concerns that complicate the ability to find and train effective terrorist operatives.

My problem with this statement is how much advanced training do they need???

My contention is they do not need much more than basic military training in firearms and small unit tactics to bring about their reign of terror here at home. With a basic understanding of the fundamentals and the motivation to carry out acts of terror we here at home will have difficulty in dealing with these threats in an effective way unless we change gears now and start training to the levels of effectiveness we will be expected to respond with. Having written policies and procedures and talking about how too is not enough! We must know how to apply strategy and tactics in the operational arena to be effective regardless of conditions and adapt accordingly. This takes consistent training and self assessment learning, unlearning and relearning on the frontline, where the initial response to these acts will come from.

Of course, a Mumbai-like situation involving multiple trained shooters who can operate like a fire team will cause problems for first responders, but the police communication system in the United States and the availability of trained SWAT teams will allow authorities to quickly vector in sufficient resources to handle the threat in most locations — especially where such large coordinated attacks are most likely to happen, such as New York, Washington and Los Angeles. Therefore, even a major assault in the United States is unlikely to drag out for days as did the incident in Mumbai.

When we don’t keep up with the pace of change, we all suffer. 80-90% of us are not prepared for the Methods our adversaries are using.

Our Adversaries are using various methods, human innovation and technology to alter the operational space (material, cyber, social and political). They gather real time individual and collective intelligence to assist them in implementing swarming tactics in an effort to disrupt our response system allowing them to dictate the tempo and alter the nature of crime and war. Now more linked than ever!

This is not acceptable. We must ready the frontline and develop operational art at a much higher level 90-95% to deal with these evolving threats.

Winning requires knowing many things, including an understanding of the environment, the climate of the situation, psychology, physiology, decision making, combative skills, firearms skills, leadership and the overall mission or intent. In an engagement all these factors combine in a synergistic way and require interaction with your adversary(s), fellow officers and the community.

Interaction with your adversary(s) allows you to gather actionable information to utilize in your efforts to solve whatever strategic and tactical problem you face. Information you have gathered only becomes actionable if you have the ability to take what you know and apply it in a way that accords with the circumstances and your overall intent. You must always keep in mind that it is impossible to control exactly how the adversary(s) will respond to your actions. So the goal is to control the adversary’s mindset with both direct and/or indirect action which takes thinking and adaptability.

Insight and imagination is needed to adapt tactics and apply them in an innovative way to the particular problem at hand. The ability to apply these attributes in a violent encounter puts you in a position of advantage. You can then seize the initiative on your terms. You control the tempo of things with interaction--moving in, tactically loitering, communication, deception, force options, etc., and focus your efforts to prevent or resolve the problem.

Taking what you know and being able to apply it to a given set of circumstances to affect your strategy and to bring an end to a violent occurrence using appropriate tactics. This is “operational art” a much needed concept to understand if we are to connect our endgame (strategy) with how we play the game (tactics).

Full spectrum Frontline officers are needed if we are to meet this evolving threat.

Full Spectrum response is not a destination to be reached, but an unending process of trial, feedback, learning, unlearning and relearning, renewal and experimentation again. An organization that adapts a strategy of full spectrum readiness as a whole is agile, ready to learn, continually changing and improving. It is fast, flexible and never prepared to say: “We have not finished getting better.” Innovative organizations depend less on forecasting, planning and control and more on scanning, agility and feedback.

I believe we are behind the curve but we are more than capable of getting ahead of the curve, if we just would wake up and see the world is changing and that we must change if we are to meet the challenges that lay ahead.

This is a great must read article It inspired the thoughts above in me. What do you think? You can sound off in the comments section.

Stay Oriented!

Fred