The Garland Attack: Re-Evaluating the CO’s Training Focus

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The CO must constantly re-evaluate his training to see that it is RELEVANT and REALISTIC to the current threat. Right now, the most pressing CURRENT threat to the Civilian Operator is without a doubt, MULTIPLE ACTIVE SHOOTERS  as was seen in Garland, TX this past Sunday.

First of all, before I get too deep into this subject, let me be clear: Kudos to the LE officer who was working security for the event who put these two POS down. Awesome job. Also to the other man working security who was wounded in the ankle; our prayers go out to you and your family at this time, hoping you make a full and speedy recovery.

Please understand, What I am about to say has nothing to do with the job these brave men did in any way, it is simply about CIVILIANS being realistically prepared for the next attack.

The Attack that Happened this past Sunday in Garland, TX has to be seen simply as a fluke. Now I am not saying that to demean anything related to how the LE reacted and performed, that was flawless. No, what I am talking about is if we look at the Modus Operandi of ISIS and study the Paris Hebdo Massacre  from January of this year, we can quickly deduce that these two shooters that were killed were in no way “trained” like the Paris shooters were. Even though they were outfitted in much the same manner: Body Armour and AK-47’s; what they were lacking was everything else necessary to be successful, such as tactical training, prior planning and battlefield no-how. Simply put: it was amateur hour in Dallas that day for these so-called “terrorist.” They were stupid, and that brave LEO took advantage of it. We cannot count on that scenario happening again, in fact, I can almost guarantee it won’t because ISIS has shown it does learn from its failures quickly.

“If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.” -(Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

In a prior post, I wrote about something called Guerilla Terrorism. Simply put, and without going into all the lengthy history, Guerilla Terrorism uses the same principles of Guerilla Warfare: Just like any insurgency, the first and foremost battle ISIS wants to win is the “Hearts and minds” publicity war. In the age of 24 hours news services and “instant information” the rule of thumb is to Get Headlines; Make News; irregardless if the operation was successful, just get some type of world news headline out there to keep ISIS and TERRORISM at the forefront of Americans minds. (Plus give ISIS something to put on continuous loop on their websites and to celebrate back home) That is why I feel these small operations like the one in Garland are but sideshows meant not to really be successful as much as they are to be a distraction and a feint maneuver to get U.S. Law Enforcement Authorities off the real objective. This mirrors another tactic used extensively by insurgents for centuries in the annals of Guerilla Warfare:  when your foe is a big, powerful nation with millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of soldiers or officers; make them STRETCH and WASTE their resources. Make them frivolously  pursue useless investigations, spend money and man hours finding out WHO this person was and who he knew, what training he had, etc. All the while another cell, totally off anybody’s radar, is setting up for the next attack, the REAL attack without any LE being the wiser.

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Training Broad Strokes

For the CO to train realistically for this type of Active Shooter scenario, he is going to have to realize that most likely, a handgun will be woefully inadequate for the task. As I said before, in using prior attacks like Paris and Garland as a blueprint, most likely the terrorist will be:

  • Multiple in Number (Paris Hebdo Attack had 3, Garland had 2)
  • Armed with high power Assault Rifles
  • Wearing Body Armour
  • Using Small Unit Tactics

That being said however, we cannot discount the handgun, since it will be the FIRST and most ACCESSIBLE TOOL the CO can get to in a pinch once the shooting starts. At present, there are over 11 Million Americans with Concealed Carry Permits in the United States according to the Crime Prevention Research Center. That at first glance may seem like an impressive number, but since the majority of license holders DO NOT seek any more advanced training beyond the 8 hour state mandated course, Yeah, you may have an armed civilian present but you may not have a skilled one. Simply HAVING a gun in this situation will not cut it.

There is also the issue of ammo. The average CCL carries only (1) spare magazine with them. Even with a high capacity magazine such as the G19 (17+1) rounds, 35 rounds of 9mm versus just 1 magazine of 30 rounds of 7.62×39 AK-47 Ammo is piss poor odds.Up your odds and carry more mags, up to (3) if possible.

PROPOSED ADVANCED HANDGUN SKILLS

  • Headshots at distances over 25 yds to defeat body armor
  • Firing while moving to cover
  • Shooting one-handed
  • Pick Your Shots, NO Fire Superiority with a Pistol vs Rifle!

VARIOUS COMBAT TACTICS/OTHER SKILLS

  • Using LUP’s (Lay Up Positions)
  • Using Cover
  • Fighting around vehicles
  • Exploiting lulls in the fight, such as the enemies mag changes
  • Ability to Self-Treat and Apply First Aid to Gunshot Wounds

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What about a Long Gun?

The primary challenge with the CO having a long gun (maybe some type of rifle caliber AK or AR pistol) available is (1) Keeping it somewhere accessible, such as a vehicle, which is legal in Texas, but the CO may run into some bullshit safety issues with their employer, depending. Of course the issue of theft prevention would have to be addressed by some type of bio metric or key lock box welded to the vehicle’s frame. Beyond that, let’s say you do have some type of long arm in your vehicle and a situation like the one in Garland happens. Now What? Now you have to go retrieve the weapon with shooters firing at anything that moves. Not a realistic or a GOOD scenario. Bottom line guys: Whatever you have ON YOUR PERSON (Concealed Carry Permit Holders) is what you are MOST LIKELY going to fight with.

Mistaken Identity? 

Civilians being armed with either handguns or long arms during an Active Shooter event also present another potentially deadly problem: Law Enforcement mistaking you for one of the bad guy’s and opening fire on you when they get on scene. This is a tricky issue to navigate because on one hand you don’t want to be shot by the cops, but on the other hand you don’t want to be shot by the terrorist either. Most all of us train to NEVER HOLSTER or DROP our weapon until we are CERTAIN no more THREATS EXIST, so what is the sensible solution? The only wise thing to do when you know SWAT or HRE are making entry is drop your weapon and get on the floor with your hands behind your head. IMMEDIATELY identify yourself and the shooters location if possible. Another option is if 911 is on the line, is be sure and tell them to pass on to SWAT that there are LEGALLY ARMED CITIZENS engaged with the TERRORIST and IDENTIFY the CITIZENS and the TERRORIST by Shirt Color, build, race, etc., if possible. Of course all this advice is precipitated on the fact no POS terrorist is trying to kill you at the same time all this is happening!

In closing, ISIS has boasted online they have 71 trained soldiers in 15 States. Now whether this is hubris or the truth, who knows, but to err on the side of caution, I urge all CO’s to “batten down the hatches”; keep your loved ones close and choose your trips and destinations with care. We can never let FEAR rule our lives, but we can have discretion and common sense in ALL that we do.

Continue to train, focus on the things we have discussed, and always Keep your Powder Dry!

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

Surviving Multiple Active Shooters

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Terrorism by its very nature, is a virus. A virus, in order to survive must adapt and change to defeat anti-biotic/security counter-measures. The Terrorism/Active Shooter MO today is to avoid hard targets like Embassies where the security has been tripled since 9/11 and to strike in force at soft targets where hapless, un-armed throngs of civilians gather in large numbers like hotels and shopping malls either with a suicide bomber or gangs of armed men with automatic weapons. You do not have to think back very far for some tragic examples: The 2008 Mumbai Attacks, where in 13 coordinated bombings and attacks, 257 people were killed and 700 wounded. The latest Tragedy in Kenya, where to date, 62 civilians have been killed and 200 wounded, shows the extreme lengths these cowards will go to ply their trade.

As we have discussed before, surviving one active shooter is a complex and dynamic situation to train for. Boiled down to essentials, it involves either bounding (moving without being detected if possible) cover to cover, as quickly as possible to an any exit, aka getting the hell out of dodge or Hiding and waiting on the Calvary. Going in with the ideal that you are going to have an “old west show down” with the shooter is pure hollywood fantasy. The only time that should become a reality is if the shooter is either blocking your egress or is attempting to openly engage you or your loved ones while hiding. Changing the scenario to multiple shooter’s, armed with automatic weapons and grenades does nothing at all to simplify the scenario, but in essence, does not really change your game plan: either EGRESS or HIDE! The reality of having MULTIPLE shooters both greatly lowers your odds of escape and increases the chances you will be caught, wounded or killed! For me to sit here and “tactically hypothesize” about what you should/could or would do in a dynamic situation like that is asinine and pointless. All that the CO can do to prepare for a situation like this is to look at the situation REALISTICALLY and not through the lens of a Hollywood Hero, ala Bruce Willis in the original Die Hard.

Having said all that however, that still does not mean we have to roll over and die!

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Giving the CO the best scenario possible, which includes him/her being “tactically aware” and not getting caught as a hostage and/or disarmed in the process, hopefully, at bare minimum, the CO is going to be armed with a handgun, spare mags, a knife and a cell phone. The shooters, if we follow the model of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the recent Nairobi, Kenya attack, will number anywhere from 15-30 men, working in 2 to 3 squads, armed with automatic weapons, Tactical/IBA vest,  grenades and radios. The disparity of force that exist between an armed civilian and squads of armed men with automatic weapons, grenades and IBA is at such opposite ends of the spectrum, even the David and Goliath analogy does not do it justice!

Of course, since there has been only one “Multiple Active Shooter” incident inside the United States (“Multiple” meaning that there was verified proof of MORE than one shooter) with Columbine High School in 1999, we really do not have any data to compare the worldwide incidents too. However, I did find these stats from the FBI website:

  • Active-shooter incidents often occur in small- and medium-sized communities where police departments are limited by budget constraints and small workforces.
  • The average active-shooter incident lasts 12 minutes. Thirty-seven percent last less than 5 minutes.
  • Overwhelmingly, the offender is a single shooter (98 percent), primarily male (97 percent). In 40 percent of the instances, they kill themselves.
  • Two percent of the shooters bring IEDs as an additional weapon.
  • In 10 percent of the cases, the shooter stops and walks away. In 20 percent of the cases, the shooter goes mobile, moving to another location.
  • Forty-three percent of the time, the crime is over before police arrive. In 57 percent of the shootings, an officer arrives while the shooting is still underway.
  • The shooter often stops as soon as he hears or sees law enforcement, sometimes turning his anger or aggression on law enforcement.

Getting back to the CO’s response, the only move you have is to do just that: MOVE!! EGRESS OUT OF THE KILL BOX ASAP. Using cover as best you can and staying low as possible and moving in a zig-zag pattern, bound (move/run) to an exit. As you move cover to cover, be mindful of erratic Bullet Behavior. As I will discuss in a future article, bullets tend to have a mind of their own, particularly in urban environments. To rehash a topic I talk a lot about, be VERY aware of bullet penetration as you bound. Most all of you know by now the distinct difference between “cover” and “concealment”. Being strictly empirical, I would wager most of the “medium” (ie walls, fixtures, booths, etc.) you would find in a typical shopping mall would classify as “concealment”; it may “hide” you fairly well but as for stopping bullets, forget it. Next time you are in a mall, look around at the general construction; most of what you find I wager is glass, poster and cardboard.

As I say time and time again on this blog, Awareness is always your first and best weapon, so hopefully, you have done some “pre-deployment” homework as to the general layout of the places you intend to stay and/or visit. In a shopping mall (in the rare instances I am caught in one) I always make a habit to study the layout directory and get a general sense of the floor plan and where all the exits are located. Concerning shopping malls, It is also note-worthy to remember that most  (not all) of the stores have service entrances in the back for deliveries that will typically lead to an exit via a loading dock. For Malls with multiple levels, there is often a service elevator for this purpose, so the freight can be loaded and delivered easier. It would not take much investigation to find this out.

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OK, so on to option two: Hiding and waiting on the Calvary. Now as I have gathered consensus from my friends in Law Enforcement HRT and examining historical examples of active shooter situations where people did hide, versus trying to run, the survival rates are lower for those who hide. Looking at an example from the latest attack in Kenya that proves the opposite however, when the shooting started, a woman crawled in an air duct and hid until Police found her 8 hours later! Take into account there is very little data on people who were hiding in an Active Shooter situation that were ARMED with FIREARMS. Talking to Law Enforcement, this situation can be likened to an armed home owner taking refuge during a burglary or home invasion; the home owner calls 911 and hunkers down with their weapon, if the intruder attempts to proceed into the room where they are, the home owner opens fire, defending themselves and the intruder is typically killed. Now in a multiple threat situation, where you may be pitted against several armed men with automatic weapons, the odds of survival start dropping severely, but we could play the “what if” game all day! Suffice to say, that if you have called 911, alerted the authorities of where you are, are sufficiently armed (have spare mags), barricaded down in a secure area with solid cover, you at a bare minimum, have the element of surprise on your side. Always remember the #1 Rule in siege warfare: The defender always has the advantage!

Now I know I have not even scratched the proverbial surface in covering every “eventuality” in a multiple active shooter situation, but as I said, this is such a dynamic event, it would be fruitless to try to “tactically hypothesize” what you could/should or would do! Sure, there are all kinds of “Macgyver” type shit you could try and do but I make it a point to be real with my readers and students..there is enough “ass smoke blowers” out there on the internet and in the self-defense training community!

Update:  An awesome example of what an aware, armed CO can accomplish! Over 100 lives saved because of this man!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2430201/British-hero-mall-massacre-Ex-Royal-Marine-handgun-saved-100-lives-terrorists-ran-amok.html

Stay Real, Stay Aware and Stay Dangerous!  The Adventure Continues………..