Today I want to talk to you about how to tactically respond to a mass attack.
Now when I say mass attack, I mean an active shooter event, mass stabbing, IED explosion, or combination thereof.
Coming off the Thanksgiving Day weekend, we saw three mass attacks in the West alone. One at the London Bridge, where an alleged jihadist killed two and wounded three others with a knife; another stabbing in the Netherlands, and an active shooter event in New Orleans.
As security-minded citizens, we know these threats exist and it's our responsibility to be prepared so we can protect ourselves and others. So where do we start?
I'm sure you're familiar with the "Run, Hide, Fight" mantra put out by DHS and other organizations. It's a good start, but like most training out today, it tends to focus on an individual's response. But what if you're with a group when the attack occurs? What if you're with family members or people who aren't trained or as aware as you? How do you manage that?
If that's got you wondering, then this post is for you.
From the outset, it's important to note the distinction between a mass attack and a one-on-one scenario. We're not talking about a robbery or a stick-up. We're talking about an attacker(s) targeting a crowd, usually in highly congested areas with a weapon in order to stack a high body count.
As we've seen in the past, chaos and pandemonium accompanies virtually every event. Because of this, it's not always easy to ascertain in the initial moments where the attack is coming from - or even if it's an attack at all.
There have been instances at concerts and other public events where people mistook gunshots for firecrackers. In some cases, people even thought the attack was part of the act itself!
Keep in mind that the attacker chooses the time and place of the attack, which means that when it kicks off, you're going to be behind time. And without proper training, you could lose that critical one to two second of response time that could mean the difference in your survival.
This is not unlike what some military units experience when they come under fire from unexpected contact and need to take swift, decisive action in the face of chaos and uncertainty.
The military recognizes this and utilizes what's known as battle drills to mitigate the effects of stress confusion encountered during combat. According to U.S. Army FM 7-8, a battle drill is a "collective action rapidly executed without applying a deliberate decision-making process."
Examples of battle drills include React to Contact, Clear a Bunker, Enter and Clear a Trench, React to Ambush, etc.,. As their names implies, these drills provide the soldier with a framework for quick, instinctive actions in response to enemy contact.
To give you a similar framework for responding to a mass attack - especially if you're with a group - I've adapted the React to Contact drill for CCW holder.
First off, understand this is just a framework attacking the problem and not a step-by-step method of instruction. As a member of a military unit, you would have others assisting you in the effort, but as a civilian, you're going to have to accomplish all these tasks on your own. In fact, depending on the situation, you may have to execute some of these actions simultaneously. So, let's go through it.
1. Move to Cover. Generally speaking, the first priority is to get you and your group to cover. Cover is anything that will shield you from bullets. Once there, you need to ascertain where the attack is coming from and, if appropriate, return fire (this assumes you are armed, trained, and skilled in the tactical use of your firearm.) The topic of returning fire is deep and will be covered in a subsequent post.
2. Shout out the 3 D's. In infantry parlance, the "3-D's" stands for direction, distance, and disposition. You need to make sure your group knows where the attack is coming from, how far away it is, how many attackers there are. Why do you need to get this out? Because it could be that you're the first to see the attack. If you can at least shout out "GUN!" and point in the direction of a gunman, that will help your group orient to the threat faster and follow your lead.
3. Check on your people. Once you are safe behind cover, do a quick check to make sure your people are physically and mentally intact. Physically speaking, you need to get accountability of everyone in your group and make sure no one was injured while getting to cover. You also need to assess your their mental state to make sure they're not in shock. If you have to move fast, they need to be in a state where they can hear and follow your directions.
4. Assess and decide. Are you going to engage the threat or break contact to get your people to safety? What you do will depend on a host of factors: how far away is the threat, how many attackers are there, what are your defensive capabilities at the time, etc.,. Again, this topic is deep and will be covered in a subsequent post.
Another issue you need to consider is what happens if members of your group get separated.
Will you leave the remaining members behind, split off and search for the others? Or, will you keep the group intact and search for the missing members together?
If you choose to split off, there are some things you need to communicate to the rest of the group. At a minimum, they need to know:
Here's an example of how this works. Say, you and your family are out at a mall. Mama and Aunt Becky have left the group to go to a store on the other side of the mall. The plan is to link up at noon at the food court for lunch.
Suddenly, an emergency announcement comes over the intercom ordering shoppers to vacate the premises. Fearing the worst, you make the decision that you will go search for Mama and Aunt Becky alone and meet up with the group later.
Here's the instructions you leave behind.
Of course, everything is situationally dependent, but there's a simple example to get you started. What other parts of the React to Contact drill would you incorporate into this scenario? Leave it in the comments below.