Learning from Insurgent Tactics: The Vehicle as a Weapon

From the Archives, 2015

Armored Van used in Attack on Dallas PD 6/13

Armored Van used in Attack on Dallas PD 6/13. Bought on Ebay for $8K

The attack on Dallas PD this past Saturday by a man in an armored van represents a variation on a tactic that has not been seen since the DC Sniper Murders in 2002, where a man and his young accomplice, using a Chevy Caprice sedan and turning the trunk into a “mobile” sniper hide, killed 10 people and critically wounded three others. The two concepts, an Armored Wagon or Van and the Mobile Sniper Hide, have at their core, basically the same concept: To Use a vehicle as a platform for a shooter or shooters to engage civilians and law enforcement, attempting to kill as many as possible. The differences lay in HOW these methods are applied.

The Mobile Sniper Hide (MSH) is a covert weapon, meaning it’s strength lies in NOT being detected, as the shooter engages targets both quietly and quickly as possible, keeping the location of the shooter (and shot) both hid (in the DC Sniper Case, by shooting from the car’s trunk through a small hole). The Armored Wagon on the other hand, OVERTLY engages targets (through gun ports), purposely drawing fire as it rolls on, ie like the Dallas PD attack recently.

The critical keys to remember if the AV concept is to work effectively, is that the engine block must be further bullet proofed (a .50 Caliber round took out the engine block) the tires must be run flats and reserve fuel bladders added.  If the engine or tires get disabled, or you run out of gas at a critical juncture, you are no longer mobile and have no egress options available; you are dead in the water, literally.

car

As far as the two concepts go, the Mobile Sniper Hide is a much more effective tool for the lone or small unit of of Guerilla fighters who live in a civilian population that is not controlled by military forces. Less attention is drawn to the vehicle as a whole, making it easier to hit and run (in reference to the One Shot Sniper Method discussed in the book Fry the Brain by John West.)

If history is studied, armored vans (or improvised fighting vehicles) work well in WAR zones, where both the VOLUME of fire coming OUT of the vehicle and the expectation of SUPPORT (from other vehicles and infantry) can be expected to be large. The downside of course is ANTITank and Vehicle weapons such as Mines, IED’s, RPG’s, Javelins and Grenade Launchers. The evolution of the IFV is an interesting study for the CO. Although I typically steer away from Wiki-Pedia, their entry on this subject is quite extensive and for the most part, correct. Read it HERE.

ATF

Another element of the insurgents use of vehicles to achieve a desired aim can be seen currently with the situation in Iraq where a large number of American Humvees that had been given to the Iraqi Security Forces were stolen by ISIS and turned into VBIED’s (Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devices). Read that story HERE

VBIED’s (or car bombs) have been a technique that has seen widespread use by insurgents and terrorist alike. Some of the worst attacks (as far a total number killed) have occurred on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, if you ask any American with a sense of history, they will tell you by far, the two attacks that are seared into their memory are The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing and the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, both car bomb attacks.

In 2010, a car bomb was detected and diffused in New York’s Times Square, thanks to some street vendors who were paying attention. Just another example of why AWARENESS is our first and primary weapon in self-defense.

 

Bibliography and Suggested Reading

  • Fry the Brain by John West

  • Buda’s Wagon by Mike Davis

  • Bandit Country by Toby Harnden

  • Days of Rage by Bryan Burrough

 

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

Urban Guerilla Sniping v3.0

From the Archives, 2014.

GSR2

“History is nothing else than a long succession of useless cruelties.” (Voltaire)

 

When you look at the situation in Syria, you see the logic in Voltaire’s prose. I suppose it is the hopeless romantic in me that wishes for a world that is not filled with asshole tyrants and despots that take advantage of the less fortunate; cowards that give “kill” orders daily, slaughtering civilians in the street like cattle. But since “hoping” for something is akin to pissing in the wind and wondering why you are getting wet, I take comfort in the fact that history is also replete with examples of men and women who stand up to tyrants. People that take action and arms against their aggressors. People who are tired of words and useless diplomacy and choose to fight “fire with fire”. Who are these people? You might recognize them, they are just like you and me; “Average Joe” Civilian Operators. who want a better life for themselves and their families and are willing to fight and die for it if necessary. After all aren’t heroes just ordinary folks put in extraordinary situations?

Guerilla Warfare and it’s practical applications should be something the CO studies on a daily basis, and right now, halfway across the world in Aleppo, Syria, there is a virtual “Urban Guerilla” school going on, everyday, 24 hours, around the clock. Now this school has been held in different locales over the years: Northern Ireland, Chechnya, the Philipines; the situation always the same; A vastly under-manned, under-equipped civilian/para-military force, fighting a militarily superior army, hitting them on their own terms using IED’s, hit and run ambushes and (Urban) Guerilla Sniping, attempting to win by attrition, constantly harassing, constantly prodding the enemy, until the war is won.

Before we continue, we need to clarify something. Guerilla Sniping is one of those “tactical misnomers” in my opinion, only because anytime you say the word “Sniper” immediately people think of Marky-Mark Wahlberg in the opening scene of Shooter making these 800 to 1,000 yard shots with his trusty Barrett and his ghille-suit on, with his spotter at his side calling the shots… ..nothing could be further from the truth! (Although that was an entertaining movie taken from the novels of Stephen Hunter).

In John West’ superb book Fry the Brain: The Art of Urban Sniping and it’s role in Modern Guerilla Warfare, West states that “Urban Guerilla sniping is a drastic departure from the traditional concepts of sniping”. He goes on to lay out several reasons for this, the most prominent being the “Long Range Myth”. Where most would think the sniper’s role of taking extremely long shots, the Guerilla Sniper turns that paradigm on it’s head. Citing historical examples from Chechnya and Iraq, where ranges of 50 to 200 meters were the norm, 200 yards even being at the far end of the scale.

Another key element of Guerilla Sniping is the dependence on Guerilla Tactics NOT  Elite Hardware or training to get the job done. West states “To connect the dots of the urban sniper one must first realize it is the guerilla’s unconventional tactics that make them effective, not their exceptional shooting ability.”

Check out this superb little video of Urban-Guerilla Sniping in Aleppo, Syria.

There are several things of note we can take away from this video:

1. Note the spot welded scope rails onto the dust covers of the SKS’ and AK’s to hold zero; yeah not the greatest ideal in the world, but the Guerilla has to work with the materials he has available; the book Guerilla Gunsmithing  is a decent primer on the subject.

2. The weapons are a mixed bag, but all of them make superb guerilla sniper weapons. Remember, we are not talking 1,000 yd yard shots here. Example:  With a steady rest, could you shoot a cantaloupe at 100 yds with your AK with open sights or even a 3x red dot? Guerilla Sniping is “out of the box” that is why the word “Guerilla” is often associated with the terms “Un-Conventional” or “Irregular”.

3. The optics are a mixed bag, note that the higher magnification optics are saved for the larger caliber G3 clones and FAL’s, while the smaller 3x ACOG knockoffs remain on the AK and SKS’s.

4. The snipers employ traditional urban-guerilla tactics to avoid detection and confuse the enemy including:

  • “Position Overload”:  Firing from an area with many potential firing positions; a building for instance with 14 open windows or “loopholes”.

  • “Splitting the Seams” Using the urban terrain to your advantage and firing from a position where the enemy cannot backtrack your firing azimuth; an example would be firing from a building that is adjacent too, or next to another building.

  • Loophole or Keyhole ShotsLoophole shooting is firing from a very small hole in the wall, either cut by the sniper or a natural deformity, like a hole from an artillery blast. Keyhole shooting is where you fire through a loophole from deep in the room, hiding your muzzle flash and suppressing/masking your sound signature. Some snipers in Chechnya for example would fire from deep in the structure, down a long hallway and through an open door or window.

  •  Multiple Shooters: Self-Explanatory tactic where several snipers are operating in the same area sometimes targeting the same or multiple objectives. If communication can be synchronized, snipers in different locations can fire in unison at different targets, confusing the enemy even more.

So, when you lay your head down tonight, thank God for what you have and say a little prayer for the FSA and the Snipers in Aleppo, asking that their AIM be TRUE, and their enemies stay STILL!!!

Study up, Train Hard and Stay Dangerous!

The Deadliest Marksman’s Cold, Brave Stand

The Deadliest Marksman’s Cold, Brave Stand

Who gives two shits about the number of kills? 500 or 200, it’s BEYOND AMAZING the guy did it with IRON SIGHTS in Below Zero temps!

This is one of the most amazing stories of partisan resilience on historical record. Let’s all learn something from it.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!