IN TODAY’S WORLD, A NEW TACTICAL MINDSET AND SKILLS TRAINING ARE MANDATORY
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.