- April 19th, 2017
The purpose of Terror is terror. Our best collective response is to refuse to be panicked and yet take prudent and reasonable precautions.
This has sometimes been hard to do, and a lot of people have some strange ideas of just what a terrorist might do to them. For instance, in the days after 9/11 there were people running around buying Gas Masks and stocks of over-the-counter antibiotics. A good few were declaring that they were sure that terrorists would do something like blow up the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor.
Not everybody has the benefit of some combat-arms military experience; which tends to broaden one’s knowledge base and impart some common sense. It was possible to point out that useful quantities of chemical or deliverable biological agents weigh many, many tons, or that dozens of terrorists hanging off a major bridge as they wired multi-ton demolition charges would surely be noticed…
There was, and remains, a pair of useful exercises for emergency planners, law enforcement officials, and others who have cause to consider just what it is that a terrorist might do.
The first exercise is to “Red Team” things, look at a potential target, and pretend that you are a member of ‘Ayn hi Eadhriti’ or ‘Firqat min Algatala’ and would like to attack it. Remember, that your plan has to be effective, deliverable, and cheap… now, get busy.
When “Red Teaming”, it is startling to realize just how vulnerable society really is to the malignantly inclined. Remember that the 9/11 attacks were simplicity in themselves – 19 men with box-cutters killed 2,996 people, injured 6,000 and caused at least $10 Billion in direct property damage. It is not too hard to imagine similarly efficient attacks.
So why do we not see more terrorism on this scale? The Blue Team exercise is slightly more difficult. Junior officers and NCOs, when being introduced to logistics, are asked to imagine that they have a task to accomplish and a platoon’s worth of naked soldiers standing in a distant field available to achieve it. Now, how to get that platoon armed and equipped on the objective?
Imagine you still in ‘Ayn hi Eadhriti’ or ‘Firqat min Algatala’, and you have concocted a brilliantly vicious plan for that cluster of hospitals, a major car-ferry service, or even for introducing a load of VX nerve agent into a theatre somewhere. Now, what steps and preparations do you need to accomplish your plan?
Bear in mind that you are supposed to be clandestine, and that every preparation carries a risk of discovery. For counter-terrorism planners Blue Team exercises are a good way of identifying gaps in defences and discovering indicators of a brewing attack.
However successful the big classic terrorism of al Qaeda has been, they keep getting caught. This new style of ‘Lone Wolf” terrorism with vehicles and knives is broadening the vulnerability of all of society; it may be time for schools, hospitals, churches and synagogues to invest in some Red and Blue teaming exercises of their own.