For over a decade now I have been researching and studying how 21st century drug cartels and organized crime syndicates operate.
I do this mainly for two reasons:
Research for my writing
Considering freedom loving guerillas/partisans have always (and are currently) seen as criminals (ie domestic terrorist) anyway, observing the TTP of ‘successful’ criminal groups, both past and present is a no-brainer.
If you take one thing away from this study it should be this:
“Your best protection in the 21st century is not a private army but ANONYMITY.”
*I recommend downloading the full report to a flash drive for reference.
In a recent Article, Law Enforcement told how they found a very large collection of ‘tactical writings’ in the home of Dallas Police Shooter and Army Panty BanditMicah Johnson.
According to Police, the tactic of “Fire and Maneuver” or “Shoot and Move” was the tactic seen most often in Johnson’s “voluminous” notes.
Since Johnson’s MOS and military career was devoid of any real Combat training or experience while in Afghanistan, Where Johnson actually learned these tactics is up for debate. Most Combat and Firearm Tactics Instructors and Combat Veterans agree that Johnson was taught these tactics by somebody who had participated in Mil-Sim (Airsoft).
The student of history and Guerilla Warfare does not have to look very far back to see the deadly nexus between 1960’s Black Power militant movements, like the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam led by Louis Farrakhan, so the BLM/HAMAS-CAIR connection is by no means a conspiratorial stretch.
Below is a vid from a Black Panther rally in 2015 in Austin, Texas where armed black militants called for the death of “pigs” (Police Officers) with the ominous chant “Oink, Oink Bang, Bang.”
When one starts piecing together the Dallas attack, the “Shoot and Move” tactic used by Johnson was one of the main reasons police thought there were facing MULTIPLE shooters, instead of just one shooter, as the fire was coming from many different positions. Gunfire echo in an urban setting combined with the chaos and high stress most likely attributed to this confusion.
This is a very important lesson to learn, both in the study of Guerilla and Counter-Insurgency Warfare (COIN). The guerilla must use any and all “force multipliers” to his advantage to try to overwhelm the enemy (both mentally and physically). One of the greatest force multipliers is the APPEARANCE that the Guerilla (or the Guerilla Force) outnumber the Conventional Force.
This tactic most often manifest itself as a psych-warfare tool first. Keeping the enemy confused and fearful creates hesitation in how they will respond both tactically and strategically, which gives the guerilla more time to plan and attack. We can understand this point better as we listen to the Police radio traffic from that day of the attack in Dallas.
Now that we have briefly touched on some of the offensive aspects of fire and manuever warfare, let’s talk about the DEFENSIVE aspects.
The armed citizen must understand that regardless if it is you and a perp facing off at 10 feet in a gas station parking lot or you pinned down in an urban shootout like the one in Dallas, MOVEMENT = LIFE!
I will be touching on some of the more detailed aspects of urban sniping and fighting in some later installments, but right now the key thing for you to remember is to ALWAYS MOVE TO SOLID COVER AND KEEP MOVING UNTIL YOU ARE OUT OF THE KILL BOX.
In Combat Shooting you will often hear the maxim: “GET OFF THE X!” (With the “X” Being the Kill box.)For those of you that understand how the OODA loop works (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) when you MOVE In a fight, regardless if it is empty hand, stick, knife or gun, you force your enemy to RESET their OODA Loop. Even something as simple as a side-step can buy you 1/2 a second of reaction time in a fight and that half-second may be all you need to neutralize your opponent or escape.
When we are talking about a situation like the Dallas shooting, where civilians were caught out in the open with a shooter in an elevated position, Movement can be a tricky thing. Depending on the shooter’s elevation, your cover may be of little use since the shooter may be able to position themselves to look OVER and DOWN onto your position. This is what I mean by having SOLID or 360 degree COMPLETE cover. Remember, If you don’t have a solid roof over your head, he may can see you and consequently, shoot and kill you.
Combine this fact with the shooter using “Fire and Maneuver” tactics and this is how you or your squad can end up being PINNED Down and eventually overwhelmed and killed. I cannot stress enough how important movement is in these situations. Staying “planted” in a kill box, regardless of how “safe” you feel, is a sure-fire recipe for a funeral.
Pictures from that day show how officers and civilians alike were “hugging” the ground, Getting as LOW as possible behind vehicles or any cover that was available.
Staying as Low as possible is a good tip anytime shooting is taking place, however, in an urban setting where the shooter is elevated, it is mandatory. We will discuss more on “Urban Sectors of Fire” in another post, but right now it will suffice for you to understand that in an urban setting, depending on how elevated the shooter is, he may be able to shoot further on the “oblique” than he can straight on.
Many elements factor into this equation of course, one of the primary ones being the type of rifle being used and the shooter’s skill level.
I highly recommend John L. Plaster’s The Ultimate Sniper and his chapter on Urban Sniping for further reading on this subject.
The decision to wage war in cities is driven in part by modern military technology. Frequently, lightly equipped insurgent forces simply cannot survive on open terrain against even a moderately well-equipped conventional force. Their forte is the close combat that is best found in cityscapes.
Urban areas provide an abundance of cover, like walls, basements, sewers and piles of rubble, that frequently negate the advanced sensors and smart technology of 21stCentury militaries. Such obstacles transform urban engagements into short-ranged wars of attrition, which offset the advantages conventional armies normally enjoy in more open environments. Civilian populations only add additional challenges for armies given prevailing modern international norms on non-combatant casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure. This makes cities even more desirable battlegrounds for non-state actors as fighting in such settings raises the costs for the states that are trying to dislodge them.
The Birth of Urban Warfare
Historians can trace this collision of urban terrain and modern military technology back to the mid-19th century.
In the 1800s, as industrializing cities expanded, traditional defensive walls were rendered impractical. Advances in the range and destructiveness of artillery made such fortifications obsolete. Urban warfare began the shift from the protracted siege of the Middle Ages to the street-to street fighting of the modern era. Of course sieges still occurred (e.g., Paris 1870, Leningrad 1941 to 1944) but more often, battles were being fought within the cities themselves (e.g., Stalingrad 1942, Manila 1945, Seoul 1950, Hue 1968).
Cities: The Level Playing Field
Unfortunately for conventional armies, breakthroughs in weaponry made for modern mass armies that were better suited for war on open ground. Smooth-bore muskets, rarely effective beyond 100 meters, gave way to bolt-action rifles and machine guns that could cut down masses of men out to 1,000 meters with unprecedented rates of fire. Tanks and ground attack aircraft (both fixed and rotary wing) were also made for wide open environments.
But in urban environments, the playing field is levelled between conventional armies and insurgents. This is not to say guerrilla forces can prevail against advanced militaries, but they can inflict significant (if not intolerable) losses on their conventional opponents, even while taking grievous casualties in the process. In rare cases, insurgents might even give as well as they get (e.g., Chechen rebels in Grozny in 1995). Yet sometimes even just killing a few enemy soldiers can be enough to deliver a movement a strategic victory (e.g., Mogadishu 1993).
So the next time you see a news report of insurgents fighting in urban terrain, consider both why they chose to fight there and look for how the conventional opponents are seeking to overcome the challenges of that difficult terrain.