Doing the right thing the wrong way.
The man pictured above is standing guard at one of our military’s recruiting centers in Cleburne Texas. The US army recruiting command would prefer that he wasn’t and just issued a policy letter a short time ago that told their recruiters to specifically avoid people like him. This has understandably caused a bit of friction and a lot of speculation about the intentions of the Department of Defense and the Army Brass. Some are alleging that the Army is refusing to look after their own and they feel it’s their responsibility to stand a post in defense of unarmed recruiters. I understand and appreciate the sentiment. I know where that opinion is coming from but I believe it’s a good way off the mark. There have been several successful attacks carried out on American soil where the attackers have alleged that they were inspired by ISIS, directed by ISIS or the terrorist group claims responsibility. There’s not a week that goes by without some news story about some plot having been broken up by FBI or other agencies. Texas Representative McCaul states that there have been over 60 such plots foiled in the US. In May of this year, ISIS claimed responsibility for their first attack on American soil in Texas at a “draw the prophet” event sponsored by Pamela Geller. In September of last year a woman was beheaded at work by a recent muslim convert whether he was affiliated with ISIS is not known. The nightly news is filled with terrorists committing atrocities throughout the middle east and Africa and a good bit of our response seems to be focused around Hashtag diplomacy and strong worded twitter scoldings. The attack in Chattanooga touched a nerve with many Americans who feel we are not doing enough to stop global terrorism and it’s newest incarnation ISIS from attacking us. This has fueled in many the urge to do something. Something with tangible results because the current policy that the administration is pursuing doesn’t feel look like it’s getting any. The feeling is that we are not in this fight with ISIS to win it. The policy now appears that we are trying to “manage” the fight and contain ISIS rather than remove them as a viable strategic global threat. Benign drone strikes across the globe hardly make headlines anymore. When they do, it’s a passing byline and the reality is that they may or may not take out the intended terrorist. This doesn’t sit well with a good portion of the American people. There are a lot of programs that are still happening that are quite useful in fighting terrorism, I know this first hand, because they take place behind the scenes such as capacity building and other less public operations that are taking place clandestinely. But for the most part, it feels like at a national level, nothing is being done to stop terrorism both here and abroad. As we have pulled our military men and women from the field, ISIS has filled the void.
Which leads us back to our guard in the picture above. This is not an Anti-Second Amendment article, If you take it as such you are missing the forrest for the trees, If anything at all, It’s a reality check. I believe that the people who are guarding the recruiting stations are doing the right thing the wrong way. I have no idea what his background is. No mention of prior service or law enforcement background or anything. He may very well have all of these things. He’s dressed the part though, kitted out similar to how we were and what private military contractors (PMC’s) and members of the special operations community wore while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan complete with a dessert painted m4 style rifle. What I believe is that he is a well meaning American citizen who sees this as an opportunity to do the right thing, just the wrong way. I don’t necessarily believe that the military views the “Guards” as a security threat in a traditional sense. More than likely they have conducted their own risk assessments and have some concerns. When my company consults and provides risk assessments for our clients whom many have global operations, we factor asymmetrical warfare into our risk assessments. Asymmetrical warfare can be conducted by state and non-state actors such as ISIS. ISIS has proven to be quite adept at this type of warfare. The American Military and our intelligence agencies have had extensive experience and have proven to be quite effective at countering these tactics while US law enforcement is struggling to adapt with appropriate counter measures that do not infringe on our constitutional rights.
Though the man may have some very noble intentions, he may not know or understand the nature of asymmetrical warfare. He may not understand that insurgent combatants do not have the resources of nation states and why they resort to terrorism as a tactic. What they do have in abundance however is cunning, and they will co-opt and use their enemies resources against him. One of the reasons why getting involved in Counter-Insurgency warfare is to be avoided. What we know is that ISIS has shown the capability to find, develop the capabilities of and weaponize disaffected muslim converts or young muslim men here in the US and in Europe and they use them as their version of the smart bomb to kill. No need to risk exposure by setting elaborate logistical and communication networks like Al Queda did in 2001. They (IS) have mastered the use of Social Media and they use it as a part of their communication network. A network that was able to slip past the vast electronic dragnets of western intelligence agencies when they successfully coordinated and carried out 3 terror attacks in one day on June 26th in France, Kuwait and Tunisia.
Asymmetrical warfare is about sowing discord, imparting fear and causing division and chaos within your enemies ranks and in their homes. It’s not a great stretch of the imagination to consider that ISIS could be recruiting someone right now whom they can convince to go and engage one of these “guards” at a recruiting station and open fire. Recruiting centers are generally located in strip malls and other populous business centers in the heart of most cities for a reason. If you look at this type of attack scenario on a recruiting center with one of these volunteers standing a post you realize that this could give them a lot of bang for the buck. There’s the potential for a 2 prong propaganda and tactical win for targeting a military entity per se and a less visible but just as effective tactical win by using the guards own zeal to “Do something to fight the enemy.” The weapons that many of these guys are packing are suited for free fire combat zones where there is little consideration for where your bullets end up. The hits on target to rounds fired ratio in combat is astronomically low for most front line combat units…. and these are trained troops. I know that there will be the exception in every group, but the statistics simply don’t bare out that all those armed volunteers are proficient, well trained and understand the dynamic nature of a firefight, let alone how to use their firearms effectively. Taking a play out of the insurgents playbook of using an enemies resources against him, A possible course of action would be to get the volunteer guards at the recruiting centers to shoot at the jihadi as he stands in front of a crowded street, busy sidewalk or fast food restaurant, and their in lies the intended hidden agenda or the real mechanism of mass casualty. Imagine 5.56 and 7.62 rounds being exchanged. The bullets have to go somewhere, and with the limited amount of training that some if not most of these guys have more than likely those bullets are going to wind up going through the businesses next door and hitting innocent victims. That could and would be a highly likely outcome. There’s no doubt that the Jihadi more than likely would die, but the potential for a greater casualty rate exists and the attacker will not have had to point his weapon or fire a shot in their direction to accomplish his mission of killing and maiming the maximum amount of victims. I developed my companies risk assessment methodologies based on what I learned throughout my deployments working with the Department of Defense, the Department of State and others. I highly doubt that I am the only one who see’s that as a possible COA (Course of Action) by ISIS. I believe that it is one of several reasons why the DoD officials have such a dim view of well meaning Americans standing guard. The other reasons they were listed as a potential security risk could quite possibly be because of the potential for negligent discharges of weapons (Which have occurred and further buttresses my point) in public on the property owned by the real estate management company that they lease from. I believe that the scenario above and not having their lease renewed would be some of the reasons that the Department of Defense would likely take a dim view these guys and list them as a potential risk.
A far better and workable solution which would harness the spirit of volunteerism would be a working partnership with the the local police and coordinating targeted patrols around the recruiting station. I can tell you first hand that it works. I would recommend placing members of groups like the hero guard in strategic areas around a recruiting station as an extra set of eyes for the law enforcement community. Having an extra set of eye’s, more importantly a motivated set of eyes looking out for bad guys is one hell of an asset! Methods that I would recommend would be to look at the recruiting centers from a bad perspective and look to see where you could surveil the recruiting center effectively. From these observation points, You could develop effective patrols. The help would more than likely be greatly appreciated and interrupts the attack cycle. If you can take away the ability to conduct hostile surveillance you have a fantastic deterrent, you effectively stop the attack in it’s tracks. Couple that with high visibility police patrols and working within your communities existing security framework for a solution is a better way. However, preventing the attack from progressing to the execution phase and not being used as a pawn of a terrorist group in my eyes would be the best!