Monday, March 12, 2007

The Wrong Audience

I'll get back to the series on defense, but it's core-dump time.
Friday I attended the "Terror at Beslan" seminar presented by John Giduck of Archangel

It was intense and rough and brutal. It was a lot of good information about bad things. Activities of known al-Qaeda cells in America. al-Qaeda training and doctrine. One officer passed out while watching Chechneyan videos and I had to wonder: if he faints watching a movie is there any chance at all that he will be able to keep it together when he can smell the blood and hear the gurgling and it's the face of a child he might know?

I have to re-write one of my chapters on hostage survival now. Everything in the original is still true, provided the hostage taker is a basic criminal. When the bad guys have no advantage in keeping the hostages alive and have trained and studied how police and military units respond, everything changes.

So much big stuff- the chance of saving all or even most of the hostages are nil. Everything I've been taught about hostage rescue will be used against me. Bureaucratic indecisiveness and turf wars will cause bodies. The al-Qaeda analysis of the United States- what we expect, what we will do, how we will respond is terrifyingly accurate (I write as Congress moves to do exactly what the enemy predicted five or more years ago).

Small stuff, too, personal stuff. A little girl crawling back into a burning building because the gunfire outside is loud and scary. A man shot who does nothing but look at his executioner with a dazed look and try to carry on a polite conversation until he is shot againg and his throat is cut and his head taken off, slowly.

There was more. I listened for seven hours and could write for ten.

But the big thing, the terrifying thing, was that this was the wrong audience. Almost everyone in the room was a cop or a soldier. We know there are evil people in the world. Few that we deal with are trained or particularly smart, but we know them. We learned a lot in this class, but the core message was not new to us: There are people in the world who will hurt and kill your children. Somebody has to protect them. If not us, then who?

The amazing thing was the people who were not in the class. Where were the school boards and principals and school administrators? Even on the soldier/cop side, where were the administrators and policy makers? (Derrick showed up, at least). The people who need to see this weren't there. The politicians in Washington and the Hollywood advocates need to learn that the world is not all composed of their country-club friends who believe that contracts are binding and there's always a win-win somewhere and people will like you if you are nice enough and pretty enough.

They need to learn that there are people in the world who would slowly cut off their head with a bowie knife and then give it to their children to play soccer with. That is the mindset we are facing.

If not you, then who?


Mac said...

All us professionals know that blood brings money. 9/11 was not a surprise - theoretical scenarios had been discussed about terrorists flying planes into buildings. Grunts like us knew it was coming. They will come again. Our administrations, politicians, educators will not be ready - will not even consider thinking about being ready (as evidenced by the jaw-dropped blank stare of a high school principal when the idea of stocking weapons in a school and training campus security how to use them). But we know, and we'll be here, underarmed, undertrained but quite, quite motivated.

Anonymous said...

It's only been 5+ years and the public is already putting 9/11 into the dust bin of history. We had two guys driving up and down I-95 shooting people and it closed down schools, it's also been forgotten. All we're left with are media critics worried about if 24 has to much torture and global warming. Meanwhile the immediate threat continues.

Mac, some civilians knew it was coming also.