Tactical World - - Contents - Photo by Spencer Platt/ Getty Im­ages Text by John D. Guan­dolo

The heat is def­i­nitely on … for the pub­lic and law en­force­ment. Ter­ror­ist at­tacks can oc­cur any time and any­where. Look at the se­cu­rity used at the Rose Pa­rade and at sport­ing events. At­tacks also oc­cur at smaller events, such as the one in San Bernardino, Calif. It’s re­al­ity.

In to­day’s law en­force­ment world, of­fi­cers are re­ally feeling it from an­ar­chist and do­mes­tic ter­ror­ist groups. When it comes to the ji­hadi threat—what many call the “ter­ror­ist” threat—many SWAT/CERT teams have good tac­ti­cal skills. How­ever, they lack the knowl­edge about the ji­hadi threat to make the proper de­ci­sions when the time comes.

The fo­cus of this ar­ti­cle is to lay out 16 crit­i­cal touch points for LE to keep in mind when deal­ing with ji­hadi at­tacks and how teams can best pre­pare them­selves.


1 The team and lead­er­ship must un­der­stand the threat. This will di­rectly im­pact the team’s pre-de­ter­mi­na­tion of the deadly force needed to neu­tral­ize the threat quickly and de­ci­sively. Why? Be­cause the ji­hadi does not in­tend to de­mand a ran­som, enu­mer­ate terms and ex­pect to make a clean get-away.

They plan on dying and tak­ing as many in­no­cents as pos­si­ble.

When en­gag­ing the ter­ror­ist en­emy dur­ing such an event—school takeover, city­wide as­sault, etc.—the de­ci­sion ma­trix used in the strate­gic use of deadly force must also in­clude an un­der­stand­ing of ji­hadis and their meth­ods of op­er­a­tion. Of­fi­cers should be trained to be aware that these events will likely in­volve ex­plo­sives, IEDS and un­com­mon im­ple­ments of de­struc­tion.

2 Teams must study and cre­ate an anal­y­sis of lessons learned from ter­ror­ist at­tacks within the past five years. The anal­y­sis should be mul­ti­fac­eted and in­clude such things as the threat en­vi­ron­ment be­fore the at­tacks took place, the nature of the at­tack, how the ji­hadi pre­pared and car­ried out the at­tack, how law en­force­ment re­acted, where mis­takes were made and what pre­dic­tors may have been missed. The team then needs to work those sce­nar­ios into their train­ing.


3 It is not enough that tac­ti­cal teams do “the best they can do with what they have” in to­day’s world. They have to chal­lenge them­selves be­yond reg­u­lar SWAT train­ing and push harder when the team does train to­gether.

4 The great­est pri­or­ity must be placed on finding highly skilled and the most pro­fes­sion­ally qual­i­fied of­fi­cers. Se­lec­tion cri­te­ria for team mem­ber­ship should be re­viewed and the stan­dards raised as high as prac­ti­cally pos­si­ble. It is bet­ter to have a su­perb team of 10 men than a medi­ocre team of 20. 5 Firearms train­ing needs to be in­ten­sive and high stan­dards must be a req­ui­site. While firearms train­ing needs to in­clude range time and po­si­tion shoot­ing, tac­ti­cal teams need to know the lim­its of their weapons and am­mu­ni­tion. They need to shoot at the kinds of tar­gets that they will have to shoot around or through in the real world. 6 Im­pos­ing high stress while shoot­ing through car doors, glass, in­te­rior and ex­te­rior walls and into win­dows should all be a part of SWAT train­ing. Pa­per tar­gets on a static con­trolled range won’t cut it when prep­ping for what is com­ing. Of­fi­cers need to re­al­ize the level at which the en­emy is train­ing and train at a level higher.

7 The em­pha­sis needs to be on rifle train­ing, be­cause it is the pri­mary weapon of tac­ti­cal teams. Com­bat mag­a­zine changes, mov­ing and shoot­ing, and shoot­ing in tight quar­ters and around ve­hi­cles also should be in­cluded in train­ing.

8 The se­condary weapon—pis­tols— re­quire more train­ing to main­tain pro­fi­ciency and, again, high stan­dards should be re­quired for place­ment on any tac­ti­cal team.

9 Tac­ti­cal team mem­bers should be phys­i­cally fit and be able to han­dle all of their gear in rig­or­ous sit­u­a­tions for long pe­ri­ods of time. Train­ing in

full gear should be the norm—not the ex­cep­tion. Most SWAT op­er­a­tors have never trained to move and shoot for three or four hours in tac­ti­cal gear be­cause they train to raid a house, ar­rest the perp and pack out.

10 How many mag­a­zines are you car­ry­ing? If your team does a raid on a drug house and you think two mag­a­zines of am­mu­ni­tion is suf­fi­cient, you are fools. When you learn this les­son, it will be too late. In a shootout with five or six ji­hadis, you will go through a few mag­a­zines be­fore you know it. What then? Plan on eight or nine mag­a­zines on your kit. How many ex­tra mag­a­zines are loaded and in the SWAT ve­hi­cles?

11 Tac­ti­cal of­fi­cers should in­cor­po­rate in­ten­sive phys­i­cal ex­er­tion into their reg­u­lar train­ing as a mat­ter of course, but it also must be in­cor­po­rated into firearms train­ing. Teams should learn to be of one mind. This may in­clude learn­ing how to train team­mates to calm them­selves in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions. In ad­di­tion to adding this into team train­ing strate­gies, it also needs to be in­cluded in the team’s op­er­a­tional plan­ning.

12 Re­al­is­tic train­ing fo­cused on deal­ing with real world at­tacks will help teams dis­cover, with­out deadly con­se­quence, missed de­tails that can im­pact sur­viv­abil­ity and mis­sion suc­cess. Re­al­is­tic and high stress train­ing will help in­di­vid­u­als de­cide (among other things) how to ad­just gear, weapons, am­mu­ni­tion loads, what gear is packed and how it’s packed. In the thick of com­bat is no time to re­al­ize your gear is in­suf­fi­cient and un­com­fort­able. Train­ing may re­veal dif­fer­ent load out strate­gies and re­quire­ments for dif­fer­ent op­er­a­tional sce­nar­ios not re­al­ized dur­ing static plan­ning ex­er­cises.

13 Snipers, specif­i­cally, should be com­fort­able tak­ing shots out to 1,500 yards, even though law en­force­ment snipers may never take a shot over 150 yards in their reg­u­lar course of duty. With this in mind, the level of train­ing needs to in­crease dra­mat­i­cally among law en­force­ment snipers, many of whom are still be­ing taught and us­ing snip­ing skills from the 1980s. Snipers should prac­tice finding hasty po­si­tions as a bat­tle moves from one sec­tion of town to an­other. Does your team dis­cuss this or train for these kind of con­tin­gen­cies?

14 Ad­di­tion­ally, lead­er­ship struc­ture should be ex­am­ined. How is the com­mand and con­trol of the team han­dled? Does the team leader train his subor­di­nate lead­ers to think out of the box and demon­strate ini­tia­tive (de­cen­tral­ized com­mand) or does ev­ery­thing have to go through the boss (cen­tral­ized com­mand)? If lat­ter is the case with your team, change it now.

SWAT team mem­bers in com­bat need to be able to func­tion in pairs. They need to know how to move and shoot. They need to do the best they can with two men and the gear on their bodies. The team should train on how to op­er­ate in a fluid en­vi­ron­ment in a run­ning gun bat­tle. Dy­namic de­ci­sion­mak­ing needs to be the key­stone of a highly func­tional team. Time is of the essence when deal­ing with a ji­hadi at­tack; there’s no time to wait on a de­ci­sion to be com­mu­ni­cated to and made by some­one out­side the en­gage­ment area.

15 To add more re­al­ism, use Simu­ni­tion or paint guns. This will ex­pose poor tac­tics and ar­eas of your train­ing that need at­ten­tion. Noth­ing teaches you to cor­rect poor ex­e­cu­tion bet­ter than the sting of a sim­u­lated round and the re­al­iza­tion that if it had it been a real round you’d be out of the fight.

16 Insert re­al­is­tic med­i­cal ca­su­al­ties into your sce­nar­ios, and make sure the men are trained on how to han­dle them. If the threat is in the im­me­di­ate area, team mem­bers should con­duct self-aid if they are able and “buddy aid” when the shoot­ing stops.

Medics on SWAT teams should spend a lot of time in emer­gency rooms train­ing with trauma docs, and they are en­cour­aged to get to mil­i­tary level trauma train­ing when available. Medics need to learn and train to op­er­ate in the dark with many dis­trac­tions while deal­ing with suck­ing chest wounds, se­vere bleeds and some­one who needs to be in­tu­bated.


We’ve seen it in Bel­gium, France, Ger­many and here in the USA. An en­emy is train­ing to bring the fight to our streets. Is your team ready? TW

Mem­bers of the Army Na­tional Guard pa­trol in Grand Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal on Dec. 7, 2015, in New York City. Fol­low­ing a se­ries of mass shoot­ings in the U. S. and the ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Paris, se­cu­rity in many ma­jor Amer­i­can cities has in­creased.

Both the pub­lic and law en­force­ment need to be aware that ter­ror­ist at­tacks are now part of ev­ery­day life. This photo shows fam­ily mem­bers, friends, and law en­force­ment mem­bers at­tend­ing the fu­neral ser­vice for Yvette Ve­lasco, killed in the Dec. 2, 2015,

When se­lect­ing teams, the stan­dards should be raised as high as prac­ti­cally pos­si­ble. Photo by Luis Sinco/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Im­ages

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