Viewing entries tagged

Battle Lessons


Battle Lessons

Run – Hide – Tell?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”


As the battle for the ‘Run-Hide-Tell’ method rages on, one has tried to stay objective concerning the reasoning behind the government led initiative or as I like to call it the ‘die on your knee jerk reaction’ method. When you learned to cross the road did you blindly run out and hope for the best or were you taught to, assess for danger and then make an educated decision as whether or not to cross?

This perspective comes from my role as a tactical medic, inclusive of but not limited to multiple deployments with the military as a combat medic and over six years of deployment within the private security sector. I am sure that we can all meet somewhere amidst the common ground covered in the middle. My personal priority will always be damage control and the best practice to lessen casualty numbers where possible during and after the attack, numbers within the predicted yield or numbers calculated through the ripple effect.

‘They only have to get lucky once, we have to get lucky every time’ Former Head of MI6

Once a cell or individual has slipped through the Security Services net, which is not easy and doesn’t happen often. The target area will have already been chosen, the plan will be set in some cases years before, (Manchester) weapons of choice are cached, timings confirmed, watches synchronised and yield expected/hoped for from attack method calculated. Weapon or weapons of choice may include vehicles, knives, assault rifles, grenades or suicide vests, all genius on mainland Europe but not a new tactic from our enemies. After much discussion we can commonly place the attacks that we have seen so far as fluid and moving with no specific fixed killing area, they are mobile and opportunistic from the initial engagement, this alone is argument enough against running as an initial option. An enthusiastic terrorist will adapt which in turn may develop into a complex attack, housing potential for secondary or follow up devices or attacks. The reaction of the security force at this point or first responders, potentially unarmed will generally decide how far these attacks go. Armed unit response times are exceptional in the city of London but would never be the same in the vulnerable cities around the UK. To instil the practice of running with no purpose or thought will create the panic, chaos, and confusion needed to prolong the success of any attack.

How should you the public or people in general react to an attack, be it kinetic through rifle fire or through other means? I have no generic lists or fancy celebrity endorsed eye-catching posters with an easy to follow flowchart, just the mind-set of a soldier along with lessons learned from multiple years at war. These lessons will encourage you to take control of your own personal response in an empowering fashion. I call it the ‘Common Sense’ approach.


Military lesson focus

Actions on attack pre Afghan/Iraq were to (Return fireTake cover,Return Appropriate Fire) RTR for brevity. As fighting intensified with ever evolving tactics during urban operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a shift happened. The Tactics Techniques and Procedures TTP’s for all ground forces at the height of both insurgencies took the ‘common sense’ approach to ‘actions on’.

Breaking contact, getting off the X, one in the same, a method used to regain a potentially lost initiative or to escape the onslaught of a complex attack, in infantry terms and once battle commences they seek to out manoeuvre, out gun and out fox the enemy whilst maintaining momentum, thus enabling prosecution of the threat.

The opposite is required in the defensive ‘actions on’ of a civilian in the case of a terror attack, the goal is to thwart the momentum, stop the ripple effect. The drill must remain simple and transferable to the men and women of our society.

Now before you scream at your phone or computer screen ‘How do we return fire? That is the genius of it, you do not need to return fire, and the drill of ‘taking cover’ is a decent immediate action and the most effective way to avoid the initial onslaught. This does not mean stay there for ten minutes; taking cover may involve dropping immediately to the ground to avoid fragmentation, debris, or bullets if a rifle is involved. It may involve a 2-5 metre zigzag dash to the nearest hardened cover (wall, building anywhere avoiding glass) or the avoidance of a rogue vehicle. It may involve changes to your personal pattern. When travelling, regardless of mode take your ear phones out and become more aware of your surroundings just as you were taught while crossing that road for the first time.

Bare with me as I manoeuvre to and from the battlefield, a full on firefight will involve soldiers bounding for no more than 1/2/3/5 metres at a time whist exchanging gunfire. One foot on the ground at all times and moving from cover to cover where appropriate. Leading our enemies into channels where they become the hunted, turning the tide so to speak. If this is the drill when we are fully equipped with weapons and armour why are we teaching our unarmed civilian population to flatly run?

Say these words and time yourself ‘I’m up, I’m running, I’m down’ that’s the absolute maximum exposure a soldier will give unless he is in the process of winning a Victoria Cross or he’s in the throws of the final assault on an enemy position, he is usually accompanied by support fire from flanks, air or the high ground.

Once the initial attack has happened as an individual or group there will be what’s known as a ‘soak’ period, time to assess the situation using all of your senses, identify the attackers, identify their weapons and make a choice, evade, defend or offend where you feel able. This is what’s known as you coming up with a workable plan, which may very well involve running, it’s all split second stuff – we as humans have an innate ability to assess risk and avoid danger, we’ve been doing it since the beginning of time.

Example question or combat estimate

So what? He/she is wearing a suicide vest. Therefore? My actions might be to dash into cover out of direct line of sight of him/her I then might look for a place to barricade myself in, along with others.

Leaders usually show themselves in times of strife, if that is not you, be confident about being a valuable team member. Going alone should not be an option, courage is contagious so embrace the adrenalin shift and as soon as you hear or mouth the words ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ believe it, it is happening, control it, and assess.

Look forward to the next Battle Lesson, this will concentrate on the ‘care under fire’, or ‘care under attack’ aspects of stopping the number of casualties free falling.

Suggested ‘actions on’ an attack

(TCAM) Take Cover – Assess – Move

A very capable friend of mine designed the ACT concept. It beats any government initiative the world over. Sure it says ‘Run’ but for the 10% who might it also says ‘Defend’

I hope the scene below reminds you of those 10% and thank you for taking the time to read my first blog, be safe.