War on the Rocks has this article on the diffusion of basic infantry tactics, and how that, more than technology – or at least integrated with technology – is the more telling marker for success on the modern battlefield.
“The historian David Edgerton authored a book entitled The Shock of the Old in which he argues that our society’s collective obsession with rapidly changing technology often blinds us to the older tools and techniques that actually drive most of what we observe around us. We believe this logic can be applied here. The diffusion of 100-year old combat techniques, coupled with readily available technology, may create serious threats that are not currently being considered.”
(emphasis mine. And it’s not just 100 year old combat skills, try 1000s of years old!)
This is so very true, and so very dangerous.
And it’s not just for our soldiers fighting overseas. We are seeing these tactics applied in criminal and terroristic events in the Western world domestically, and when they are employed, the danger level for our police officers rises considerably. Even a solo actor, using fire-and-manuever tactics and weapons skills wrought havoc in Dallas. When applied by trained pairs or groups, they were devastating in France. And while we have yet to see a Beslan or a Mumbai here in the States, it’s coming.
Historically, when criminal actors have used tactics, firearms and fighting skills, and a willingness to close with the enemy (i.e. the police), they have done a great deal of damage.
Today, when some law enforcers seem to have difficulty isolating and closing on even a disturbed kid with a rifle, what is going to happen when they are faced with a trained adversary?
Some companies do offer training to law enforcement for this kind of thing, which though it may be disturbing for some, is more and more necessary. That training should include force-on-force fire-and-manuever tactics, immediate action drills, hand-to-hand combat (both barehanded and with edged weapons from a grappling platform), and tactical casualty care. Most of these skills go back millennia, and some methodologies even hundreds of years old contain elements effective for training the body and mind for exactly the kind of “closeness” with the adversary that is demanded.
But very few officers receive this kind of training.
Instead many agencies are fearful, sensitive of “militarization” accusations and worried about the “warrior” label – until something like Parkland occurs and there is a hue and cry for more cops that should have “closed with the enemy.”
Can’t have it both ways.
Unfortunately, we also see a proliferation of trainers and commentators (I readily admit myself included!) more than happy to publicly disseminate information, tactics, and training advice on exactly how to get better at the very things that make one effective in these kinds of situations.
Like the world isn’t watching.
And most of that is us simply saying “Look at me! Look at what I know! See how Tacti-Kool I am!!”
With plenty of eager Tacti-Kool-aid drinkers lapping it up. Most of them NOT in law enforcement.
This state of affairs is concerning.