Training Our Cops For Combat
On the other side of that coin are the soldiers in our armed forces, trained for battle; to survive and emerge victorious from the field of modern combat. Certainly, the rules of war (isn’t that an oxymoron?) are taught, but the greater focus is, and must be, on decimating the enemy; overcoming those violent acts of war committed by the designated enemy with even greater amounts of violent energy. That violent energy might take the form of dropped bombs, or it might consist of an armored division.
Perhaps, because of the size of the attacking force, the required violent response can be sufficiently provided by a squad of Marines. What is important to realize is that these soldiers have been trained to operate under different guidelines than those of our civilian law enforcement personnel. Where civilian LE professionals have to always use the minimum force necessary, overkill is not necessarily a bad thing for our soldiers. “A fair fight means all my Marines come home,” is a quote attributed to a Marine Corps Commandant.
Now, let’s think about this: In my mind, war is not fair. War has few rules and most of them are disregarded when it comes down to me or him. If I’m a soldier on the ground in Baghdad and I get attacked, I’m not going to think about any use of force continuum to decide what is the appropriate level of force I should respond with. My Rules of Engagement tell me what I can and can’t do. But I don’t have OC Spray, a baton, TASER, handcuffs, etc. I have an M16 or an M4 and a knife / bayonet. I might have flexi-cuffs, but I’m not on patrol to make arrests. I’m on patrol to keep the peace. Sometimes (most often?) that means squashing anyone out who is interrupting the peace.
Law enforcement professionals, on the other hand, when attacked, have to stay alive but are always bound by that “minimum force necessary to affect the arrest.” The only exception to that I’ve experienced is Active Shooter training when minimum force is replaced by “neutralize the threat”. When it comes to protecting our children, we still know how to do the job right. Political correctness gets set aside and simply getting the job done takes precedence without restriction. That same outlook now needs to be taught and heavily emphasized in all potential counter-terrorism response and operations.
I know; I know. I’m probably over-reacting. There probably aren’t any terrorists here in the United States and if there are, they are running scared. Right? I’d believe that except for that big construction site where the World Trade Center used to be. I’d believe that except for the rebuilt portions of the Pentagon. I’d believe that except for the memorial in a field in Pennsylvania.
And while I sometimes get criticized for being paranoid about protecting our (all American) children, it is the one topic that seems easiest for all to agree on, no matter their political outlook or views on violence. AND, terrorists have more than proven themselves willing to target children, and may in fact prefer to target children in the United States because:
1) Children are the least likely and least capable to resist, and
2) Children are an emotionally charged target insuring greater impact and fantastic press / media coverage.
So, what’s my point? Well, as I said in the beginning, “Here in the United States, we have a special problem that calls for a special solution: we define terrorism as a crime. That means that our law enforcement professionals, and not the military, will be tasked to respond to and deal with terrorist acts.” The problem we face is that our law enforcement professionals have been facing a steady decline in their training with regard to anything combat or conflict oriented.