Archive for November 2016
I’m reposting this guest appearance from one of the South African Police Service’s best CQB and SWAT instructors. When I was invited to South Africa by Nelson Mandela’s new government in the 90s to work with the newly renamed South African Police Service (as opposed to South African Police FORCE), the SAPS led the world in violent paramilitary assaults on police. Given the recent spate of ambushes on police officers during traffic stops, the information below may be relevant.
I’ve been asked recently about the wave of anti-police sentiment and violence by everyone from major media outlets to friends at the coffee shop. All I have to say is that anytime we entrust our safety to others, we MUST hold those we entrust to a higher standard. Period. And the vast majority of police officers are honorable brave men and women who go in harms way, each and every day, to protect others and strive to do the right thing under difficult circumstances. There are exceptions, but most cops are straight up and do an admirable job of balancing a staggering amount of stress in a humane and reasonable fashion while dealing with some of the worst and most dangerous people on our streets. Higher standards, absolutely. And MOST cops despise the crooked, corrupt, cruel or inept who make their way into their ranks. See here my response to some of them: https://marcuswynne.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/repost-achy-man-on-corruption-reply-to-the-haters-and-chapter-two-of-threes-wylde/
Be safe out there.
COUNTER-AMBUSH FOR POLICE
My guest today is Master Trainer and Tactical Team Leader Clint Oosthuizen of the South African Police Service. Clint is my brother-from-another-mother. We go back to the mid-90s, when the South African Police Service (newly renamed from the former Police Force to Police Service to manage a new political narrative after Mandela took power) asked me to consult with their national executives, the Psychological Services Division and a number of their specialty units. During one of my stays in Sunny Africa I lived with Clint and his family. I rode with him and his police crew from day one, much to their amusement and my frequent terror.
Back then, in the aftermath of the long struggle between the apartheid government and Mandela’s political party the African National Congress, South Africa had the highest rates of crime-related violence in the world. Johannsesburg was the most violent city in the world, the leader in armed assault, homicide, forcible rape, and robbery. It was very much like William Fairbairn’s Shanghai, and it was Fairbairn’s work that inspired me to go there and learn from those who daily engage in high levels of professional violence.
To this day, it remains one of the world’s violent cities, and the job of the police officer is much closer to the counter-insurgency soldier in an urban environment than the job most American police departments are familiar with.
When I was there circa 1995-1996, the casualties among the 100,000 serving police officers in the SAPS were the highest in the world. Armed ambushes (firearms and edged weapons) resulted in over 250 dead cops a year.
Now twenty years later, the number of officers killed in direct fire (ambush) or edged weapon attacks is closer to 100 a year. Roughly 0.1% of the police force dies each and every year in some sort of ambush. That’s based on an average number of 100,000 for the total national police.
Clint is good enough to take the time here to share some of his street wisdom derived from 20+ years at the very hard edge in police patrol and SWAT operations. He and his crew have been tested in innumerable gun-fights (defined here as engaging in close combat with firearms with a resisting foe(s)) and many bladed encounters. In addition to SWAT, patrol, K9, Training and various specialty units, Clint also spent several tours in the Middle East doing high-risk Protection Security Details with my late great friend Rich Smith, of the Rhodesian SAS and other elite units.
Rich (second from left) at the Neural-Based Instructor Course. Conrad (RIP), Rich (RIP), some Old Guy from the NDE Club, Clint newly initiated into the NDE Club, and the indestructible Dennis Martin
Clint’s been there and done that; he didn’t just see the elephant but French kissed him (several times) and survived the dreaded rhino slap…tale to be told another time.
Clint’s perspectives on police patrol procedures, and the individual and unit training necessary to survive and thrive in an environment where police are everyday targets of opportunity for heavily armed, highly motivated and tactically proficient criminals may be of interest to police trainers, police officers and armed civilians watching the evolution of violence on the American streets.
Here’s Clint Oosthuizen, Police Officer, Combat Leader, Gunfighter, Bon Vivant, Force of Nature and a man I’m proud to call my friend and brother:
Clint: Oi, mate! As you know, our police history has always been one of extreme violence. We lose about 100 officers a year (down from the bad old days) to ambushes, which include shootings, explosions (grenades, mostly) and edged weapon attacks (pangas, like a machete, as well as other knives). This doesn’t count accidents or guys wounded on duty who are unable to return to duty. That’s a much higher count, but I don’t have those exact numbers. So far this year to July, we’ve lost around 80. Of those 60% (48) were killed with their own weapons.
• When we work, we always have 2+ officers. Never less than 2.
• When we go Alpha (respond to a complaint) we don’t use sirens unless we have to; we run lights and shut them off when we’re a block or so away.
• We never roll up on the address. We always stop 1-2 houses away, and then we walk in using a standard cover formation. That means one officer handles the contact/initial interview and the rest of us provide all around cover. That means covering the suspect and any other individuals, the house, the surrounding houses, the yards and alleys. All around defense, all the time.
• If we tactically penetrate a building we come out the same way unless back up has arrived.
• If we arrive on a scene and find blue lights there with an officer we don’t know, we watch the officer for pre-violence indicators as they might be bad guys disguised as SAPS police officers, or crooked SAPS officers committing a crime. We actually run into that quite a bit, LOL.
• When we embuss (get back into the vehicle) the driver enters first while we cover him; he starts the car and puts it into gear, then we get in. That way you always have boots on the ground ready to fight if you have to until you’re able to get away fast in the vehicle.
• When we do a car stop we are always ready to shoot. Always. One guy talks to the driver while the other guy covers with all around defense. We get a lot of drive by shootings on car stops.
• When we approach the car it’s always from the rear. We check the hood and move no further than the rear windows. Our stand off shooter will always cover and move with the officer making the contact; the stand off shooter has to have eyes in the back of his head because he has to watch his partner AND approaching vehicles AND the local environment. Hard work.
• If we get ambushed while mobile our SOP is drive through.
• If we can’t drive through, we debuss (get out of the vehicle) and lay down suppressive fire and flank or retreat tactically.
• If we can’t debuss, we lay flat and return fire through the windscreen (windshield) or through the door. We then exit and lay down fire by shooting around, through or under the vehicle and exit the kill zone to flank/regroup/escape. Comms are vital between you and your partner and with incoming backup.
• When we chase somebody we always chase with a partner. We never leave our partner alone. Ever.
• We see a lot of grenade attacks. We train to take cover, or get at least 7 meters (21 feet) away, go face down, cover our ears, open mouth, and after the bang goes off we roll to a supine position and shoot back at the bad guys.
• For car tactics, you must work with your partner on comms and SOPs. When you’re ambushed in the car or on foot, you can’t be f**king about, so you must work it out before and practice it together. You must know how your vehicle handles at speed or damaged, and what kind of rounds do what kind of damage to your car. And wear your plates!
• You must make sure that everyone on your shift also has agreed upon and trained comms and SOP so there’s no blue on blue when your backup rolls in to help you while you’re in or exiting the kill zone.
• Individual officer skills, well you must be fit, and you must train in all the fighting disciplines: shooting, knife, baton, CQB applications, SOPs. It must all seamlessly integrate because in a fight how you win is irrelevant as long as you win.
• Your gear must be 100% even if you must buy it yourself; you can’t afford failures.
• I advocate blade skill. We are a knife culture and we see them every single day. Being able to use a knife is very useful in the close quarter engagements we find ourselves in. You can use it to defend your gun, or if you can’t get to your gun or you are disarmed of your gun it’s also useful in a team take down of a suicide bomber or grenade thrower (cutting the ligaments on the activation hand, etc.)
Clint, can you discuss situational awareness and what kind of weaknesses the police officer must be aware of?
You remember that video you mentioned in chat that showed the American SF team in Iraq and the American SWAT? The difference? In that, the American police focus on the target structure, and even the perimeter team is focused on containing the threat…not looking for threat outside the perimeter. In the SF video, they cover all nearby houses when they enter. One of the best points was the movement inside the building. The police just pass the windows once they are inside, the SF cover out the windows in case they are hit from outside.
So the point is that police must learn how to see like soldiers do, and look further around, up and down, near and far, to be situationally aware enough to see an ambush coming or at least fight through one.
While there are significant numbers of veterans in the American police forces, I don’t think the training on counter-ambush and combat situational awareness has filtered through the liability conscious administrations. Definitely some exceptions, but not many.
We had a lot of the same problems. Lot of political correctness from people who don’t ride the car or the van into the shit. So we do the best we can with training, but sometimes you just have to take it on and train with your partner as best you can, and if you have a crew you train together even if you have to arrange it yourself. Your life, oke.
You routinely see a much higher level of skilled violence in your incidents down there. The American police are just starting to get more exposed to the somewhat tactically proficient active shooter or terrorist, and while we’ve been fortunate to avoid a Paris or Mumbai, the consensus is that will be the wave of the future…not if, but when…and where.
When we started out, you remember, LOL, we had a lot of military trained criminals who had recent military experience and training from the long conflict. When they didn’t get what they wanted from the new administration, they used their skills to go out and get what they wanted. Most of them had no other education besides fighting. So we’ve always encountered those proficient at buddy team, squad and platoon sized fire fight tactics, understood fire and maneuver, how to utilize heavy weapons and hand grenades, etc. Our tactics had to evolve to face that. Just like Americans, our first response is generally a car with two officers, so what we do has to be robust enough to deal with an ambush or skilled attack right off. We have to survive till our back up or the tactical response van gets there, LOL.
Can you comment on individual skills training for officers? You mention that you can’t depend on the Training Section to give you all you need, and that you must train with your partner even if you have to find your own time, gear and range.
Basic and recurrent training is never enough. If you are serious — and if you are not serious you will die, be badly hurt, or end up hiding in the station for your entire career – then you must train individually, with your partner, and with your team if you are in tactical response. On the individual level, you must be fit. Fit enough to fight for your life in a crowd, outnumbered and down. Fit enough to run the f**k away if you must, LOL, or run to help another officer. You must be proficient in using your gun. Not just shooting scores or nice groups, but being able to shoot while fighting, while someone is grabbing your weapons, in a crowd of non-shoots, and so on. You must know without a doubt what you can and can’t do with your weapon and shape your tactics around that. With your partner, you must be able to read each other’s minds. Like you taught us, LOL. You have to be able to read body language of your partner and of others. Sometimes you can’t say anything, you just have to read the situation and act. That’s one level of comms. You must know how to use the radio and have a back up for when it doesn’t work. Like my smartphone, LOL. You must be able to fight out of, around, under, and over your vehicle. You must be able to drive the vehicle under stress, under fire, and while damaged. You must know how to respond to IED attacks and grenade attacks in the car and on foot and respond as a team.
You have to know how to handle a blade. A blade and knife at the same time, or just a blade, coming at you or in your hand. And your baton of course. We have the long guns as well (remember your R5?).
An individual officer must take the time to get and keep his skills up. If he does not, he will die or be badly injured, or else cause some of us who come to back him up to be killed or badly injured. In that case we will beat his ass at the station after, LOL.
Clint, thank you so much for taking the time to share your hard-earned expertise and wisdom with American law enforcement. If people want to ask you questions, they can post here. Thanks again, Oke!
Happy to help! Looking forward to seeing you again! And this time we won’t feed the lions! ; )
I have been incredibly busy with Accentus-Ludus the last three years, which has taken me away from writing fiction. I will be back to it soon. Two books: the first is the complete compilation of all the Wylde books, in a LENGTHY mss (over a quarter million words) which combines a complete revision of the first two books and then the final book in the trilogy. It’s a monster tome titled WYLDE. Long overdue, I know.
The second book is THE ACHY MAN, the next installment in my urban fantasy experiment that began with THE SWORD OF MICHAEL. I had a great discussion with a friend of mine, a retired Federal investigator with an extensive history of dangerous undercover assignments overseas and Stateside, and he helped me structure some of THE ACHY MAN. He’s working on a RICO case https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racketeer_Influenced_and_Corrupt_Organizations_Act and while he couldn’t give me specifics about his case, he did share some great stories and helpful insights on mine — my story, I mean.
Structuring THE ACHY MAN along the lines of a RICO indictment is actually a fascinating exercise in narrative structure. Ten year time span, like from 2006-2016, multiple action/turning points from predicate crimes, and the constant turning this way and that…great fun. To be released concurrent with WYLDE, hopefully around January 20, 2017. We’ll see.
Below is a repost of the strange dreams that started THE ACHY MAN; I also enclosed a lengthy snippet from the opening chapters.
Enjoy, and maybe I’ll meet this deadline! Fingers crossed!
In between marathon revision on my own almost-due manuscript, I’ve dipped into the DARK TOWER series by Stephen King. I’m astonished that I missed this when it came out and I’m making up for lost time now. King recounts in the foreword to THE GUNSLINGER how he woke from a dream with a disturbing refrain that later became Roland’s beachside encounter with the Lobster Things.
I’ve had a similar series of dreams.
My dearly appreciated fans often tell me how they LOVE my bad guys: Jonny Maxwell, Alfie, Johnny Wylde and his crew, the Faceless Man His Own Self, Mr. Smith aka Hank…there’s an interview on my friend Lance Storm’s (the WWE great) website http://www.stormwrestling.com/bookmarks/warrior.html about evil, villains and story-telling that I wrote for his Book Club’s about WARRIOR IN THE SHADOWS.
My recent dreams are about an evil character I call the Achy Man: bent and twisted with chronic pain and hatred, the patriarch of a clan that makes GAME OF THRONES look like THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Like Stephen King’s strange refrain that birthed THE DARK TOWER, mine started with a non-sensical riff on that old nursery rhyme: Lady Bug, Lady Bug, fly away home, your house is on fire and your children’s alone…
But instead I got these, a long series that I woke up and wrote down:
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
Your life is on fire, your children’s alone —
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
Your sons are all cowards, throw ‘em a bone —
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
Your friends are all laughing, that’s why you’re alone —
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
The Country Club dissed you, you’re a no-fly zone —
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
Your PI done lied to you and left you alone —
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
Your car needs polishing, are you getting stoned?
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
Fox News gots your picture and your friends’s picture too —
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
There’s a Federal indictment in your time zone —
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
I’ll be there next week — maybe I’ll leave you alone —
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
I’ll be there next week, all old and alone,
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
Maybe I can help you? For a significant loan —
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
Threaten a child and I’ll burn down your home —
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
There’s some Street Crimes killing in your patrol zone —
Achy Man, Achy Man, fly away home,
Your hookers done left you and they laugh at your bone —
Seem crazy? There’s a story here, I think…like THE DARK TOWER it may connect to my previous stories and to those in the pipeline.
I thought I’d share that with you, since I rarely write about the creative writing process, being one of those writers that would rather write than write about writing. But going back and forth between projects has given me a particular perspective right now.
Among those projects: nearing the end of the revision to THE SWORD OF MICHAEL (working title, may be changed) my first urban fantasy for Baen; once that’s done, sometime next week I’m thinking, then it’s on to finish THREE’S WYLDE. I’m also working on some short fiction, some of which I’ll post here and some of which will appear in some magazines.
Thanks for staying tuned — more later!
PS: You know what’s great about the Achy Man rhymes? They make PERFECT tweets…
EXCERPT FROM THE ACHY MAN
THE ACHY MAN
They had been beating him for a long time.
One of them, who’d been a deputy for not quite as long as the other, wondered how long the prisoner would last. His partner, a big porcine man, had been working on the man’s face, which no longer looked like a face – it looked like old meat turning blue in the sun.
But there wasn’t any sun.
Just a quarter moon in the night sky, the only sounds beside the dull wet thump of flesh breaking under fists and boots the whisper of the wind in the corn stalks, and every once in awhile the distant hiss of a car passing by.
“How long before he dies?” the younger deputy said.
The older man looked over at him. Silent. Blood spray on his face. Considered the question. “Not long.”
He stepped away, then kicked the man curled in a ball at his feet.
“I want you to kick him,” the older deputy said.
The look on the older man’s face set the younger to almost shitting his pants.
“I’m not asking you. Kick him.”
The younger man poked at the prisoner with his boot.
A slap across his face stunned him, the solid thwock of the meaty palm across his narrow face echoing in the corn field.
“Don’t play with me,” the older deputy said. “Kick him. In the face.”
So he did.
After, when the last breath wheezed between the broken stubs of the dead man’s teeth, the younger deputy leaned over and vomited his fried chicken dinner. The older one threw him a shovel.
“I did the work,” the older deputy said. “You dig the hole. Dig it deep. And roll him in it.” He laughed. “That’s how we roll in Mason County.”
Lieutenant Dick Gant steered his Mason County Sheriff Department squad car around the parking lot in a big circle. The other deputies were careful to ignore him, avoid eye contact. Gant wasn’t a big man, but he had a hateful, bitter twist to his face, and besides the stink of tobacco that surrounded him there was always a sense of, well, jangling was what one deputy described it. Loose cannon didn’t catch all of it.
Just plain mean, was what one dog handler said.
“If he was a dog, I’d put him down,” the handler said. “No training that bitch.”
` The other deputies laughed long and loud, as they always did, as long as the lieutenant wasn’t around. The loot had a long memory, and if you got on his bad side, you never got off, and he had a gift for making life hell for people. He nursed a particular grudge for anybody who did their job well, and an open contempt for the deputies who might actually take their job and the shield they wore seriously.
Made you wonder what his idea of the job was about, but then, in Decanter, you didn’t ask those kind of questions. Not if you were a deputy and you wanted to get out of the jail and out on the road, not get caught in the hell of the corrections unit or, worse, court services.
And then there was always the question of the payroll.
Not the paycheck, meager as it was, they collected every other week.
The Loot had a lot to do with that.
But then, he’d been around for a long time.
Wilhelm (known as Will or Willy at his insistence) Eichmann threw his golf clubs in the truck of his Crown Vic, slammed the hood down and slid into the front seat. From a distance, the brown Crown Vic looked like a police cruiser; it was the same basic model as the State Police used, with a mounted light on the driver’s side, and a set of antennas on the rear bumper.
Pretty fancy ride for a bank guard, or so some of the cops he liked to hang around with said. He pretended not to hear, forced a laugh, and bought more rounds than he should, but that was the price he thought he had to pay to hang out with the real cops. Once, a long time ago, he’d thought about going for it, taking the exam, going through the academy…either the police department or the sheriff’s department, but the prospect of having to ride in a car alone, even with a gun, at night in Decanter, was something he never wanted to face up to.
So he settled for the next best thing, which was an okay paying job as a guard which led to pretty rapid advancement, and after twenty years he had his look alike cruiser, a lieutenant’s rank in the bank’s regional investigation team, and a whole team of his troops, as he liked to call them, to order around.
And he had his cruiser.
He backed out of the parking lot, shooting a hard look at a couple of old-timers who brushed by his car — washed everyday, stroked lovingly by hand himself, in the driveway of his house — almost marring the near mirror finish he liked to keep on the car. He rolled down the power window, and propped his elbow in the open window, just like a real cop, or so he thought.
He drove down Woodrow to Washington and made a left, tooling down past Sacred Heart Church, then onto the main drag that took him into the little downtown of Decanter. He parked his car across the street from the courthouse, checked the time on his cheap Rolex knock off, and went into the lobby, and paused beside the security checkpoint.
“Hey Will,” said Deputy Jeff Parrott. He was short, lean built in the same way a pit bull is, all muscle and bone, blond and with a certain coldness that led most anyone with any sense to avoid him. Hard to do when you’re a prisoner in custody, but then in Decanter, what happened in the jail stayed in the jail. Or so that was what word on the street was.
Willy Eichmann puffed up, looked around as he did, always checking to see if anyone was looking at him – especially someone of importance, somebody higher up the food chain than him, and even in a town this small, there were quite a few, in the Sheriff’s Department, the County Attorney’s office, the County Board, the bank management…the list went on.
But in his little world he liked to think he was the top dog. He wasn’t shy about reminding those that worked for him, including the deputies who moonlighted (against county regulations) as armed couriers on his armored truck runs, and they tolerated him because he paid well and on time, and in Decanter that went a long way.
“Jeff,” Eichmann said. “How’s it going? How’re the troops today?”
Jeff let the hint of a sneer cross his face and looked away. “Troops?” he said. “Yeah, us troops are just fine.”
The other deputy, a heavy-boned man with the long jowls of a hound dog, head closely shaven, crossed his arm and grinned at Eichmann.
“Hey Will,” said the deputy, whose name was Fergus. “Saw your kid the other night. Over by the high school.”
“That’s where he works,” Will said.
“I thought they was a law against school employees hitting on students,” Fergus said. “In this state I believe that’s a sex offense.”
Will grinned, quick and false, looked around. “That’s funny.”
Fergus grinned. “Yep. Real funny. Kinda weird, but what do I know?”
“Kids,” Will said. “Your kids, somebody else’s…pain in the ass. I don’t know why people bother anymore.”
“Funny thing for a father to say,” Jeff said.
Will shrugged and looked into the distance. “Some kids are more of a pain than others.”
Will Eichmann’s kid was cruising around in his red Ford Explorer, his elbow resting propped in the open window, his hand curled around a Styrofoam cup of coffee — just like a real cop. His buddy Danno was sitting in the passenger seat, flipping through a magazine of Eastern European porn, “the fancy stuff” as he liked to say.
“The fuck?” Bryant Eichmann said.
“What?” Danno (known as Good Twin) said, distracted by the high resolution close ups of shaved pussy and dick, something he thought of often in his role as catamite…
To Be Continued…
I was recently reminded by some clients of mine about this particular post. It was one of my more popular ones with comments from some of the top tactical trainers in the US and abroad (see comments) at the original here: https://marcuswynne.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/random-thoughts-on-crowds-and-attacks/ It’s always a good idea to keep certain principles in mind, especially when the Powers That Be just issued another warning about vehicle type attacks during the holiday season. Me, I hate (and I never use that particular word lightly) thinking about cowards wreaking havoc on the innocent during holidays. In addition to the various pro-bono activities I support for those who go in harm’s way on behalf of others, I’ll provide some insights for those who are security conscious and want to protect themselves and those in their charge. One of the videos linked below was removed from YouTube; probably for the best as it was truly horrific.
As always this information is provided to educate those are interested and is based on my personal experience and training. Use your own judgment as to whether it suits your needs and if not, may it be a guide to researching elsewhere for something that may be better for you.
Crowds frighten me.
There was a time, a long time ago, when I enjoyed the excitement of a crowd: concerts, packed movies, huge parties (my 18th birthday party had over 400 participants, a band, and enough drugs and alcohol to fund a mid-size cartel….) and even the odd political event before I grew disillusioned.
But not any more.
It was actually a concert that broke my enjoyment. Back in the 70s, I attended a benefit concert in San Jose CA for Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Union. It was a great concert: Santana, Taj Mahal, a ton of minor acts. And because it was a political fund-raiser, no police for security. Only the Brown Berets of La Familia providing volunteer security. This was the era of Altamont, where the Hells Angels provided security for the Rolling Stones, and there was violence there; there was violence here, too.
I was about three bleacher rows away from the first major fight. It was hot, people had been drinking and getting high all day in the sun, and several La Familia security were called over to intervene in an argument between a huge unaffiliated biker and a patch-holder from one of the smaller CA MCs. When it kicked off, it kicked off big.
I remember watching the fight flow like a ripple in a pond, getting bigger and bigger till it was a tidal wave: first two guys fighting, then four or five, then knives and chain belts (outlaw bikers used to wear the drive chains of bikes for belts as they made handy flails in melee combat along with the obligatory Buck Folding Hunters and fixed blades) and then easily one third of the bleachers that held over 45,000 people erupted into violence. Gun shots, knife fights, fist fights, people screaming…and the crowd and the fight nosing one way and then the next like a gigantic animal.
Me and my buddy couldn’t fight our way through and down, so we turned and did the opposite – we fought our way up the bleachers, and then climbed over the safety rail and made a precarious descent down the support structure behind and beneath the bleachers, and then climbed a high barbed wire topped fence to escape.
As I recall there were several hundred hospitalized after the mass riot, and the police couldn’t even get into the stadium.
I will never forget how fast the violence grew, how fast it turned, and how fast people got ate up in it. I’ve seen similar violence elsewhere since then, but that first impression has never left me.
So I avoid crowds.
But sometimes you can’t.
I am no longer an instructor. I’m a coach for instructors and a designer of training programs. I do get asked from time to time to lend my experience and opinion to problems. Like the problem in this video, posed by a woman who is a fine martial arts instructor who asked: “What can I possibly teach or say that would have helped this woman?”
Ugly. Raped and beaten so savagely she required surgery. Easy enough to say, don’t be there, or don’t dress a certain way if you’re going to be in a place like that. But sometimes we don’t get to choose, as Lara Logan, who was similarly attacked while doing her job, describes in this interview:
Some of the hard men who go in harm’s way talk about the shooting solution. While there are times that may be the solution, even the best trained and reasonably armed can be overcome and killed by the fast moving crowd. In this video, notice what happens when the shots go off…and what happens when the fire is ineffective and doesn’t continue…and when the shooter has the gun beaten out of his hands….
Other skilled people talk about driving away or through. Great in principle but sometimes fails in practice, as Reginald Denny can testify:
And sometimes the crowd isn’t spontaneous, but planned:
What might an instructor want to convey to a woman (or a man) who might have to consider a mass attack like these? I don’t have any hard and fast answers. I have some general principles. The crowd is a dangerous beast, and the crowd mass attack is the most dangerous beast of all.
My random thoughts on principles:
• Don’t be there if at all possible. Avoid crowds, especially crowds of young men, and especially of young drunken men.
• If you’re in a crowd by choice, pay attention to your intuition and your feelings (the atmospherics or situational awareness) of the energy/mood of the crowd. When I was young and getting my first professional fighting chops as a doorman, I could literally feel the energy in the bar shift when things were about to go bad. Everyone feels it; and most can recall it after the fact if they survive. This presupposes, of course, that you are sober enough to notice.
• If you’re in a crowd by choice, have a partner or several friends. Don’t be alone and don’t allow yourself to be isolated in the crowd, especially as a woman surrounded by men. Look for other women or men who will stand with you or stand up for you and ask for help.
• If the crowd gets ugly, get out as fast as you can. The earlier you sense the change and the faster you move, the less likely you are to get caught up in it.
• If you become a target, keep moving. Move away, don’t stop and don’t let yourself be stopped.
• If you are grabbed, you must have previously made a decision about what to do and act instantly on it. A fast decisive attack may dissuade, distract, or delay others for you to get away…or it may incite even more violence. If you are fighting bare handed against a mob focused on beating and or raping you, it’s like fighting a tidal wave. Look at those videos above.
* The greatest challenge(s) are:
a. Knowing the spectrum of violence and recognizing when attention turns into the intention to harm you – the earlier you sense that the more effective any pre-emptive action (escape or preemptive strikes) will be.
b. Being violent enough early enough to stop the first key individuals moving on you to create space to escape.
c. Being able to ride out the panic of being overwhelmed by a crowd bent on hurting you, which is one of the most terrifying experiences any human can feel, and work a plan or improvise one. Which presupposes that you have a plan for such an event, which presupposes you’ve thought about it, and that you can improvise a different plan if your first one fails contact.
For the shooters in the crowd, notice what happens in the IRA mob killing video. The initial shots scatter the crowd…except for a few key individuals who continue their attack focused on disarming the operators. Then the crowd returns. Shots fired, most of the crowd retreats…except for the hard core. Have you thought about what you might do in such a circumstance? Would you fire warning shots and hope to scatter the crowd? Would you shoot to kill the main players in the mob?
As for driving away or through, notice what happens both in the IRA video…what happens when you stop? Even you stop and are blocked in, you are faced with the decision to either run over or through a crowd – have you thought that through and decided in advance about what you might do in that instance? Reginald Denny stopped…
In the Lara Logan interview, pay attention to what she says about the change and the escalation in the language and atmospherics in the crowd. Can you pick up on a point where she might have left? Can you see it or feel it?
The only hard and fast solution to this problem is not to be there. The principle of staying away from crowds works (unless you’re hunted by one, as in the gloating trophy video) but dealing solo with a mob attack gone violent is like swimming with a hungry great white shark. The mob usually wins.
Today is the one year anniversary of the Paris terror attacks. Let us remember all the innocents who perished while out for an evening’s pleasure, and may the information I presented here a year ago help anyone caught out under the same circumstances when we see a similar event. While I certainly pray otherwise, I think in these days a prudent person will consider the possibility of another such event, and take the time to think through in advance courses of action that may save their lives or those who depend on them.
There are a great many much more qualified (than me) commentators on the tactical implications of the Paris attacks for armed professionals, law enforcement, and the private citizen. For a very good compilation go here http://www.activeresponsetraining.net to my friend and colleague Greg Ellifritz’s excellent blog.
Since we are mental software type people, I thought I’d share a few observations from that perspective.
So in no particular order, some random points and implication.. As always, nothing I say here is more than my opinion based on my experience and training, so let your own experience/expertise/training/opinion be your guide as to its value
The axis of the attack
One way to take this is that the insertion of the operators along a north south axis utilizing primary avenues of approach and egress into the heart of the city was purely a matter of chance, or convenience for whatever support element MAY have assisted…of course they could have just taken the bus, subway, or private car.
A result of coordinated attacks taking place along that axis is that it creates a series of interlocking traffic stoppages/grid lock into the heart of the city. If one refers to the timeline/sequence of events, near simultaneous and in rapid succession, one result is to tie up traffic and responding units into tight little balls, and subsequent units and follow on help will end up being tangled, slowed, distracted…vulnerable.
For LE/professional responders/EMS etc.: You may be cut off and diverted out of the usual way to a particular scene. You may be unable to drive directly to the scene and have to dismount some way off. If so, are you physically able to move from your vehicle carrying all your gear (rifle, plates, spare mags, blow out kits, EMS gear, whatever)? Do you have a plan for alternate communications in the case you dismount? What if your comms go down? (for instance, in a more fully integrated attack that simultaneously hits the power grid and the radio network and fiber optics that run many public safety VOIP communications? Imagine responding to a mass shooter event in a blackout and with no communications….)
For us regular folks: You may not be able to get to your vehicle, if you have one, or take public transport out if you use that. Do you have good shoes to walk all the way from a downtown venue to your home if you had to? Back in the early 2000s when NYC was hit with a major blackout, several friends of mine had to walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn. That’s a long hike in strappy Ferragamos, as one of my lady friends said. Do you know how to get back to where you need to be on foot? Do you have downloaded (on your actual phone drive) maps of your local areas in case phone/GPS goes out? Could you navigate blacked out city streets without a GPS or paper map? Do you have a flashlight with you in case you have to read street signs in the dark? Can you figure out which way is north or south or east or west? A little button compass might be useful then.
Fire discipline displayed by shooters
At each of the restaurant/café/street side shootings along the way, police recovered approximately 100 shell casings. With two shooters, that adds up to about two magazines of 30-rounds each. That’s discipline and experience. Shooters debuss from the vehicle, empty two magazines into the crowded streetside venue, jump back in and drive away. What does that fire discipline tell us? Training, rehearsal, experience. Most of all experience. These are seasoned, i.e. they have killed before, shooters who can remain cool and keep track of their ammunition expenditure, who display fire discipline, and continue moving along their pre-determined route to hit either targets of opportunity or (more likely) carefully pre-scouted venues that provide the most access from the street combined with the largest number of people.
LE/armed professionals. These are seasoned killers. That doesn’t mean they’re particularly superior tacticians or gun handlers, but their big advantage is simple, robust tactics coupled to (most importantly) not only the willingness to kill but experience in killing. And they’re not concerned about getting caught or dying. So facing an opponent in that fashion requires moving to kill, not to arrest. The vast majority of LE are not trained or supported in training to kill in this scenario – and that’s not normally the job of the police. However, there is no question that if you are armed and you engage with or are identified by operators like this in a scenario, you will immediately come under fire and be engaged until you are dead. So that’s a good motivation to keep in mind.
The armed citizen. A very good reason to pre-think decision making. A handgun against a long gun at the distances involved from the street to a sidewalk café, especially in a lone handgunner against a seasoned fire team with long guns is not an optimal situation for the handgunner. Moving to cover, shooting from ambush, understanding and knowing what one’s baseline of performance under stress, having sufficient ammunition to sustain an extended fire fight and knowing/understanding that in this scenario suppressive fire with a pistol to cover your own or other peoples evacuation might be a viable tactic.
Trained in that lately? Against resistance? Against dedicated attackers who mean to fix you in place and kill you?
If you are unarmed in this instance, it’s best to channel Monty Python and run away, run away, run away. Going empty hands against seasoned killers with long guns is a non-starter unless you are within arm’s reach, which requires motivation and a skill set that is not common in most.
Sophistication in IED manufacture, i.e. bomb vests/belts.
Contrary to popular fiction and film, you don’t just gin these up in your basement. Building vests/belts that go off when they’re supposed to, and yet are comfortable enough (or at least non movement inhibiting) to wear while fighting requires a sophisticated skill set, expertise, and specialized equipment. And of course explosives. On a recent visit to Israel, some operators shared with me details of a particular bomb/shooting operation: the female bomber was wearing a bomb vest that had been built off a cast of her torso; at visual examination it looked like a pregnant belly, but was a sophisticated device with safety triggers (and possibly with a remote detonating capability with encrypted cellular as a back up, but I’m not sure). The team included 4 active shooters equipped with long guns and pistols, whose job was to make sure she got into the venue and detonated the device and then they were to engage responding units and civilians till they ran out of ammo or were killed.
They didn’t get to do that, because the very hard guys got to them first, but it’s a good example of what is not just possible but standard operating procedure. It also means that serious professional bombmakers are involved somewhere, and so those devices are not of the pressure cooker type (though those may be around too). Higher level of sophistication in IED.
Professional responders: You must plan for bombs and explosives as a given. If there’s shooting, there will be explosions. Whether hand grenades or IEDs. What is your level of knowledge on handling IED in THE STREET FIGHTING ENVIRONMENT? Not render safe procedures, or bunkering and waiting for the robot to water cannon the package, as in running to and into a fight where there may be IEDs on the targets you’re shooting, or in the bags around them, or in the grenades they throw your way? Will you anchor a downed shooter so they don’t detonate their vest and kill you and your fellow officers? Do you have a procedure to back people away to a safe distance? Do you know what the safe distance is for an IED bomb vest/belt/grenade? If not, who are you going to ask for that information and how will you remember it/train it?
Us civilians: Remember Monty Python. Run away, run away, run away. Rule of thumb: move far enough away from a downed shooter/suspect package so that when you extend your arm full length, you can hide from your view the shooter/package scene behind your outstretched thumb. In the event of a blast or if there are grenades, etc. being flung in your direction: Ass to the blast. Turn away from the device. Get behind cover if you can in 1-2 steps. If not, get down flat on your belly, ass to the blast, cross your feet at your ankles, press your elbows to your sides and press your hands to your ears and open your mouths. If you have a child/children, shove them underneath you, compress their heads under your chest with your arms squeezed against your side so that their ears and head are protected; squash them flat under you. They will probably be screaming so their mouths will be open. Try to cover your ears as well if you can. Same if you have a loved one who’s too slow or doesn’t know how. Press them as flat as you can and cover them.
If you are injured, self assess: can you keep going to get further away from the scene, or are you truly too injured to proceed? Other folks write at length about the need for medical training; really first aid is an essential life skill and you don’t need to be an expert on trauma management to save a life including your own.
If there’s one explosion, there’s two (or there will be). When you run, pick your direction and consider, if you are able to in the moment, that you might be herded along the most likely avenue of escape into another explosive killing zone.
A lot of what I’ve read lately on the Error-Net focuses on gear and what you, Joe Civilian or Mary First-Responder should be carrying. I like gear, don’t get me wrong, and I’m fully on board with having the right stuff when you need it. I’ve been toting myself, weapons and gear in harm’s way since the 70s, and here’s a few pithy things I’ve learned from people smarter than me:
*Training trumps gear.
*Specific real-world experience trumps generalized training.
*Knowledge derived from experience and supplemented by training allows quantum leaps in improvisation.
All that being said, yes, it’s better to have a t’quet instead of a belt, or a table cloth; yes it’s better to have an Izzy or some other pressure dressing; yes it’s better to have an airway instead of a safety pin…
There’s a balancing point between what you can reasonably (i.e. comfortably, have immediately available, concealed if that’s a concern, if off body in a every day carry sized bag) have with you and what you would actually WANT in a full blown low probability high risk scenario like what happened in Paris. There’s lots of other people opining about that who are much better qualified to discuss the latest and the greatest than me.
Here’s a couple of things a friend of mine whose experience and training is significant suggested:
*Have a weapon and a concealment system. Preferably high capacity with a minimum of one high capacity magazine.
(He likes a G19 with a flush 15 round mag, and as a back up mag a 17 rd mag modified with a Dawson Precision +5 baseplate and spring, which gives him a minimum of 38 rounds. He has been known to slip two back up mags in his waistband. He conceals it with a system that consists of a Boxer Tactical belt, a Black Center Tactical holster modded with an Incog extra long strut, and a couple of mag pouches similarly modded for deep concealment.)
*A strong knife. Pocket knife is fine, or a small legal sized fixed blade, like the Boker Coye Razorback in a good sheath.
*Breaching tool. Not a big-ass tacti-cool one, but something with glassbreaker capability like the superb Spyderco Rescue Knife, or a small ti pry bar, etc. Or even the key chain mounted ones. Breaking a window is harder than it looks, and having the capability to break hardened glass to get out of somewhere is vastly under rated.
*A flashlight, preferably with high lumen and a strobe or signal capability (MiniMag Light with SOS signal in it is just fine).
*A bandana (to dab his fevered brow, or improvise as a blood stopper)
*iPhone 6+ with several specialized apps installed that work WITHOUT cell or wi-fi signal. These apps include OsmAndMaps, which allows the user to download detailed maps onto the phone so in the absence of cell/wi-fi you have detailed maps to navigate with, and Lofty Wiseman’s SAS Survival app. The feature of the SAS app he likes best is the built in (not dependent on wi-fi/cell) Morse code communication app. You can type in a plain text message, the program translates it into Morse code and then uses the built in smartphone flashlight (or the screen itself) to transmit the message. No doubt someone is laughing at sending Morse code these days; however given a major event and the amount of aerial and satellite coverage dedicated to an in-progress event, synchronized flashes whether recognizable as Morse code or not (and they are to the computers, kiddies, the algorithm sorts it….) can show location (like trapped in a rubble pile) or convey useful information to the Fed computers who can translate that for the tacticool knuckle draggers (3 T long gun, 2 ied ne entrance, roof clear) if one were playing mouse in the wall.
Anything else is nice to have, if you have the time and wherewithal to lug stuff around. These days I see people lugging backpacks stuffed with trauma bags spare magazines and AR pistols to go to the coffee shop; there’s so much just in case gear in there you can’t squeeze a laptop in. All cool with me – just have a plan to use it and be cool about it.
Note about the AR pistols: It’s a “thing” to have an AR pistol in one’s backpack or whatever. Great tool for those who know how to set it up, zero it, and run it. Those that know how to do that are familiar with the ballistics and how your particular round choice (300 Blackout or 5.56) will be affected by the different barrel length, and zero accordingly. Most of the people blasting away with them at public ranges have never zeroed them and have no idea where their rounds will hit past 7 yards, much less at 100 yards or more (very easy inside of any mall and many schools). Yeah, having a rifle caliber in a compact package is awesome up close – assuming you can deploy it and hit with it. A 10.5 inch barrel AR pistol zeroed at 50 meters gets you easy center of mass hits out to 200 meters; up close you have to account for offset if you want precise head shots, but keeping it in the body is not hard. An extremely experienced friend counts kills at 500meters using a MK-18 with an ACOG – 10.3 inch barrel.
If you’re going to carry stuff, know how to use it and what the capabilities are. And yours.
Since the brain responds best to focused questions, here’s some to consider when you mull readiness and preparedness. Think about these as a way to create a foundational neural net to build your mental rehearsal on:
How are you mentally prepared? Do you have relevant experience and or training? Do you have skills to improvise weapons and medical equipment? If armed, what is your real skill level as opposed to your training day skill. How far can you engage accurately under stress? What is your performance when tested cold to establish your real baselines? Do you have any previous experience with threat to life stress? Do you have sufficient ammo to SUSTAIN an engagement against automatic carbines/rifles at close range? Can you do suppressive fire with a pistol against carbines/rifles? (Harrington Drill: empty 3 15-rd mags as fast as you can at 7, 15, 25 – all hits on a pie plate.) Can you engage when surrounded by injured panicked innocents? Can you kill? Do you have a plan not to get killed by responding units or other armed citizens? How do you respond? What’s the decision tree? Are you alone or with someone you must be responsible for? (Kids, family, friends who are NOT fighters or armed?) Are you injured? Are you armed? Do you have a cellphone and is it functioning? Are you pinned down or herded into an environment conducive to hostage taking (killing)? Can you engage? Are you able to engage without being immediately killed? Can you hide and wait, even if you must see horrific things (children killed, women raped, etc.) while you are waiting? Can you wait till the right time? Would you recognize the right time if you saw it? Can you realistically feign compliance to achieve a superior fighting position?
There’s some food for thought (actually a feast for thought, but then I’m a cognitive neuroscience enthusiast…)