The attack on Dallas PD June 13, 2015 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 two gay black muslim extremist 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 principle: 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 (Armored Van) 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 and a bullet magnet.
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 ANTI-Tank 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.
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 savvy street vendors who were paying attention. Just another example of why AWARENESS is always our 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