Skull-Stomping Sacred Cows: Sun Tzu on Dallas, Cowardice, and Training
I’ve held my tongue publicly, for a couple days, in the interest of not treading on the dead. As I’ve watched know-nothing news commentators, and politician police officials make statements that are demonstrably wrong on the nature of the attacks, however, I’ve decided to vent a little bit, in the interest of helping increase the survivability of my readers…Fair forewarning however, while I’m going to try and keep my language clean for this article—because I believe the message is important enough that I don’t want to run off those milquetoasts who are scared to read harsh language—those afraid to read the truth will probably still not want to read this. If you don’t like it, stop reading when your feelings get hurt…or man up and read what needs to be said.
(For those that are going to jump on the “John hates cops! This article proves it! He’s badmouthing cops!” bandwagon…I ran this article by almost a dozen career police officers, at the local, state, and federal level. Every single one of them agreed, wholeheartedly, with the sentiments and conclusions of the article.)
Here’s what we—and by “we,” I mean, “I,” based solely on what I’ve caught of events on social media and various network news channels—know:
On the evening of 7JUL16, during a Black Lives Matter protest march that was, by all accounts, proceeding peacefully, at least one individual began firing at Dallas Police Department (hereafter referred to as DPD) and Dallas Area Regional Transit (hereafter referred to as DART) police officers who were providing security and crowd management for the protest march.
Over the course of the incident, five police officers were killed, seven were wounded, and two non-police citizens were wounded as well. During the course of the shooting incident, police finally cornered an individual, later identified as one Micah Johnson, age 25, of Mesquite, TX, in a building, where—after attempted negotiations—they sent in a EOD remote-controlled “robot” with a demolition charge and blew him away.
Law enforcement agencies quickly announced that Johnson was the lone shooter (Dallas has a strange proclivity for lone shooters pulling off amazing feats that defy logic and physics, apparently…), and pointed to his “military training” as the reason behind his apparently superlative combat ability. Ties to the New Black Panther Army and other Black Liberation Movement organizations were mentioned, as well, but not considered a possible source of training information, apparently.
During a search of his domicile, allegedly numerous notebooks with “combat tactics” were discovered, as well as “bomb-making materials” and additional firearms, other than the SKS the subject had at the time he was killed.
That’s what we (I) “know.”
Here’s what we (I) can surmise, based on relevant personal experience:
1) Dude was an E3, with six years in the Reserves—in an Engineer unit—and a deployment downrange to the ‘Stan. His MOS was 12W—carpentry and masonry specialist. He was not an Infantryman. He was not Ranger-qualified. He was not SF. While it’s possible—perhaps even probable—that, at some point during his deployment, he gunned up and ran a convoy or two, it’s also reasonably safe to assume he was not out kicking in doors and shooting Hajj in the face. He certainly didn’t learn to be some sort of super-ninja gunslinger as a reserve E3 in a Reserve Component Engineer unit. Further, the tactical techniques he used are not anything doctrinal to the United States Army.
Nevertheless, he managed to kill five uniformed, armed police officers, and wound seven others, as well as wounding a non-police bystander (the other injured bystander was, according to news reports, injured when he was knocked down, or tripped, and stepped on, as the panicked mob was fleeing the shooting.). Dude exhibited a level of tactical acumen and aggressiveness that indicates specific training. So, dude had training from somewhere.
One of the theories that has been passed around and looked at, by several people in law enforcement and the training industry, already, was the possibility that he had participated in MilSim (Airsoft). Comparing the video footage of his taking down the officer at the pillars, where he drew fire, then buttonhooked around and smoked the officer from behind, at contact distance, with videos of some of the tactical techniques commonly used in MilSim, hinted at a possible connection there.
None of the local MilSim people have admitted to recognizing him however. So, either SOMEONE ELSE had participated in MilSim and taught him, or he watched a LOT of MilSim videos and mentally rehearsed those TTPs to a level of proficiency, OR, someone else taught him some sort of tactical techniques they learned elsewhere. In any case, dude learned somewhere, and it certainly wasn’t in his Reserve Component Engineer unit.
Ask some of your friends who have been in the service—or, if you’ve been in the service, ask yourself—how many E3, junior enlisted guys, have any real education in operational planning? As a Ranger private, we learned to plan patrols, but that was because we were being prepped for Ranger School, and were expected to be able to perform two echelons above our current duty position. That is not the norm, across the Army, before you are an NCO, or in a duty position that the MTOE calls for being filled by an NCO.
Personally, I highly suspect he was trained by others in the political activist circles he ran in. This, of course, leads us to the next aspect…
While in a built-up, urban area, shots echoing off building facades can create strange noise patterns, leading some people to surmise there were more shooters than there were, there were plenty of people in the area—both police officers and non-police civilians—with combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan—that for all of them to have been deceived into believing there were multiple shooters when there was actually only one, requires quite a bit of a leap of imagination.
In the end, this dude supposedly killed give armed police officers, and wounded seven more, by himself, before being killed? That means, he kicked the piss out of one of the largest police departments in the US, all by himself…a Reserve Component Engineer private…with an SKS (although there are reports coming out now that it was actually a Saiga variant of the AK74)…Of course he did…(and make no mistake, if it WAS a single shooter, he DID kick the piss out of DPD…)
So, what can we learn from what we know?
1) News commentators, politicians, and politician police officials quickly labeled the shooter a “coward” and a “terrorist.” There are a couple of problems with this.
First of all, he was anything but a coward. The only way you could conceivably call him a coward was because he shot his targets from a covered, concealed position, and then moved before they could return fire at him. Calling that “cowardice” instead of “good tactical acumen” means that every US infantryman is also a coward, because that’s, well…sort of what we do. It’s called an ambush, and it’s a fundamental tactical task of successful combat operations.
If you expect people to fight stand-up, face-to-face, at conversational distance, you’re a sucker. The officer at the pillars was actively engaging the suspect, and got outmaneuvered. That’s not badmouthing the deceased officer; it’s simply a statement of fact. He crowded his cover and lost spatial awareness of what was going on within the battlespace. He died as a result. The shooter, on the other hand, displayed physical courage and aggressiveness. That’s not applauding the shooter; it’s simply a statement of fact.
Calling the shooter a “coward” because he chose to not engage in a stand-up, High Noon showdown with police, if we are intellectually honest, means that we also have to label the police officers who sent a robot, armed with an IED, in to kill the shooter, as cowards as well, because they didn’t choose to engage in a stand-up, High Noon showdown with the shooter. They were NOT cowards. They were demonstrating good tactical acumen, leveraging the available tools and technology to their benefit to finish the fight without further losses.
It may be reassuring to the masses to label the dude a “coward,” but that does a great disservice to the police officers who ran to the sound of gunfire, and it does a great disservice to both police officers and armed citizens who choose to run to the sound of the guns, in the future, by creating a false image of what the bad guys are, or are not. If you go running towards a fight, convinced that the dude who is displaying good tactical acumen is simply a “coward,” you are going to get jacked up, bad.
The shooter was, in the strictest geopolitical definition of the term, NOT a terrorist. He was a criminal, because he violated the laws of the State. The argument that he was a terrorist however, can only be raised however, if we allow that he used violence to achieve political aims—which he did, but there’s a caveat. Let’s look at the first clause of that sentence, first.
a) The shooter allegedly told police that he was “angry” about police shootings of blacks, and as a result “wanted to shoot white people, and white cops specifically.” So, he used violence—shooting police officers—to achieve the political aim of getting police officers to stop shooting black people.
Admittedly, to the rational brain, this seems counterintuitive. I guarantee you, today, police officers that have interactions with black males are far more tense and wired for danger than they were the day before the shootings. However, we’ve also seen a host of police officer shootings in the couple of days since the Dallas shooting, and we’ve seen promises and threats of more, across social media. So, he actually DID achieve a probable political aim: he convinced other angry people to begin shooting police officers. Under that aspect of the geopolitical definition of “terrorist,” he certainly meets the criteria. However, let us look at the caveat…
b) Generally, in the common, classical geopolitical lexicon, it is understood that terrorists use violence—against civilian targets—to achieve political aims. However, when that violence is targeted against uniformed, armed government personnel, it’s not terrorism, classically; it’s guerrilla warfare.
Make no mistake: the level of tactical acumen and marksmanship displayed by the shooter—evidenced by the fact that, with the exception of one non-police civilian, everyone he shot was a uniformed police officer—clearly indicate that he was ONLY targeting uniformed, armed government personnel. Had he chosen to shoot at ANYONE—in other words, had he been a “terrorist” in the classical geopolitical understanding of the word—the death toll would have made the shooter in Orlando look like a piker by comparison. He had hundreds—if not thousands—of people, in a relatively contained, canalized kill zone. It would have been like the proverbial shooting fish in a barrel.
News commentators and politicians keep talking about the bravery of the officers, rushing to protect the protesters and bystanders. While I do believe most of the officers involved DID display physical courage, rushing towards the sound of the guns, to say they were protecting the protesters—when the shooter wasn’t shooting at anybody except police officers—is disingenuous propagandizing, at best.
We have, over the last sixteen years of conflict, grown accustomed to labeling all enemy combatants—even in their own country—as “terrorists.” It is part of the political theory. It dehumanizes the enemy and makes them MORE evil (as if they needed any help with that…), making it easier to justify killing them. That is a flaw of modern society in decline, that we need to “justify” killing the enemy. At every other point in our history, the mere fact that they were the enemy was adequate.
We—whether police officer or other armed citizen, concerned with contributing to the protection and security of our communities at the Decline of Empire—need to recognize, both intellectually and viscerally, that there are people out there who want to kill us, are willing to do so, and have the physical and moral courage to be aggressive in the pursuit of that goal.
An excerpt, from Forging The Hero, discusses this reality:
“Historically, we’ve seen immigrants, during affluent periods of an empire’s existence, who felt—and expressed—great pride in becoming imperial citizens. Even Mohammedans in America, during the peak of American imperial power in the 1940s and 1950s, were proud to be Americans and part of The Great Experiment. No one is more patriotic, or fervent in their support of the Empire, than the immigrant who found success and fortune in his new homeland. When decline sets in and reaches a state that can no longer be ignored though, the memories of every slight—real or imagined—is suddenly recalled by those who have held on to the vestiges of their ancestral cultures, instead of integrating successfully and totally into the imperial culture. While the empire is affluent, and there is money to be made, all the diverse cultures seem to be equally loyal and filled with patriotic fervor. As soon as the decline begins to steepen however, and wealth and luxury begin to become harder to find and hold on to, because it is consolidated in fewer and fewer hands, and the rungs of the ladder are harder—if not impossible—to scale, ethnic enclaves begin reforming, in the form of self-segregating communities, and tribalism naturally finds a resurgence in a reversion to the naturally xenophobic state of mankind, within the borders of the empire, as people focus on looking out for their own.”
If we hope to see our own, common cultural values survive, we have to survive. That means not being afraid to move to the sound of the guns, and kill bad people. THAT, in turn, requires having the tactical and technical expertise to deal with unconventional, but professional level small-unit and individual tactical techniques, as well as—you knew it was coming—being physically fit enough to execute those skills ourselves, on demand, even when completely unexpected.
Assuming, because the politicians and news commentators say so, that the bad guys are “cowards,” or “common criminal scum,” rather than angry, aggressive, professional fighters, is a good way to end up dead because you underestimate the enemy, and as a result, overestimate your own abilities.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory against you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” –Sun Tzu
If you view yourself as someone willing to move to the sound of the guns, whether professionally or by avocation and conviction, you owe it to yourself, your family, and even your community, to be effective and efficient—professional—in your execution of the fight. You can’t afford to be blowing away non-combatant bystanders. You can’t afford to get shot, because you sucked, and tie up critical emergency medical services—putting the EMS personnel potentially in harm’s way unnecessarily, when they could be treating other casualties. You certainly can’t afford to get killed, because you sucked, and leave your family behind. If you’re a cop, and think your Academy training is adequate, you just saw a very graphic example of the fallacy of that (one of the slain officers was a three-tour veteran of the GWOT. One was a former 1st Ranger Battalion veteran from the 1980s. One was a former Marine. Are you better in a gunfight than those guys were?). If you’re an armed citizen, and haven’t had professional-level training with your weapon, and in tactical skills, you will be doing your community a greater service by moving AWAY from the sound of the guns than by moving towards the guns and getting killed or wounded because your ego wrote a check your ass couldn’t cover.
Go. Get training, from someone who knows what the Hell they are doing.
If you are not someone who is going to move to the sound of the guns, that’s okay. At least be able to protect yourself, if the guns come to you—carry your gun—and be able to help those who have been shot—know your Tactical Combat Casualty Care methods, and carry aid gear, so you are not forced to become a fleeing, bleating sheep, running with the crowd, as people around you are being killed. Do your part to protect your community, whatever your part is.