Unlike 99.55 percent of the American population, I’ve been in combat, and I’ve been in a direct armed struggle with experienced combatants at ranges from around 15 to 800 meters. Still, I’m no expert on tactics. I’d say I’m a journeyman soul snatcher at best. But it doesn’t take tactical Tactical Jesus (a.k.a., SGM Kyle Lamb) to come away with some simple tactical lessons from the attack in Dallas.
Movement is life, and aggression wins
One man was able to make multiple experienced law enforcement officers on the scene think that were under a coordinated assault by a fire team. They were not used to the simple, engrained tactic of firing from a position, then changing positions. And that goes both ways.
If you are a member of a team attempting to stop an attacker(s), keep at the forefront of your mind that where the shots came from is in the past. Those rounds are gone now, and there’s nothing to say that your opponent isn’t gone as well, and is maneuvering to attack you from somewhere else.
Teamwork is key
We saw lots of videos from Dallas. I noted something that was extremely rare for the military. Single officers, running in different directions, alone. I see cops working alone all the time, and I hate it. Even for highway patrol, I’d prefer they were always in pairs. Part of that is safety and accountability, but it’s also a mindset, and one that I’d like to see engrained further.
Communicate, reload and fire from cover
Notice I didn’t say cover is where you hide or wait. While you’re doing those things, your opponent is maneuvering, firing and killing you. In short, never be married to your cover. Consider it more like dating during spring break. Get what you need, and get moving.
Back off the cover
The army trained me to stay a good three meters away from the side of structure, and to push as far back as I could from cover and still be covered by it. The reasons are many.
We had to be concerned with RPG’s hitting the cover, but spall or ricochets from rounds striking the cover will absolutely destroy your hands, weapon or face, depending on how far you are pushed forward.
Pressing against cover makes you far less mobile. As we saw in Dallas, doing so greatly reduces your field of view. If the officer that was shot behind the pillar had been pushed back from that pillar, he very likely would have seen the attacker closing in on him and had a chance to maneuver and fire.
This is a training mistake I see very often, and one I often find myself getting into after I’ve watched other people do it in a class or competition. If that happens to you, if you find yourself pressing up against the barricade, drill yourself out of it. It’s a training mistake that will get you killed.
Standard police tactics have limited effectiveness
That’s certainly true against an aggressor who does not intend to escape or live, and whose goal is only to inflict the maximum amount of damage possible
When I went into the army in 2001, we were still being taught how to clear a room based on SWAT tactics. By the time I left the army in 2010, those tactics had transformed.
When I started, we stacked up on the door, or created one, and all flooded in like sand. When I got out, we opened the door with explosives, often the Mk19, used the minimum number of people necessary inside the structure, and were far, far more destructive during entry and clearing.
We denied our opponents the time to plan, dig in or get reinforcements. We also denied them what they really wanted: more targets.
The result from the change in those tactics was that house-borne IED’s went from common to rare, and the number of civilian non-combatants caught in the cross fire actually went down.
I don’t know if those tactics would ever be tolerated inside the United States. Considering that some media is decrying the use of explosives against a single attacker in an enclosed space, the concept of clearing the entire garage floor with coordinated fire from M2s is probably a bridge too far.