Guardian Joe: How Less Force Helps The Warrior

Guardian Joe

"Less shooting takes more maneuver" says H. John Poole in his latest how to book that maximizes confidence and winning at low cost, Guardian Joe: How Less Force Helps The Warrior. The book focuses in on how United States Forces abroad and Policing here at home to "have the best chance of winning a modern conflict. With less death being inflicted comes less vengeance, and more probability of a lasting peace." This is the 17th book I have read by John Poole who always does great research and offers great insights of value to not only the military but to policing as well. Guardian Joe is another great resource I think you all will find great value in.

"Colonel John Boyd, the greatest American military theorist of the 20th Century, observed that war is waged at three levels: the physical, mental and the moral. The physical level-killing people and blowing things up, is the least powerful level. The mental level, where maneuver warfare is largely waged, getting inside the other guys head, is more powerful than the physical. But the moral level is the most powerful of all." ~William S. Lind, tactical advisor to 29th Marine Commandant

Poole observes that America has clearly been suffering from dichotomy of intentions. While Washington continues to champion human rights around the world, its preferred way of war is still through "overwhelming firepower." I would argue Policing in America is currently fighting the same dichotomy of intentions here at home. Although police use of force is low only 1.4% of 50-60 million contacts annually with deadly force being only .0002% of these encounters. The perception due to media and social media coverage over the last several years has policing struggling to find more effective ways to police a free society. What are the law enforcement ramifications? John Poole observes:

"As most American police departments are largely composed of military veterans, their procedures are still largely based on U.S. tactical doctrine. Among the basic axioms of that is fire superiority (use of force)".

So what, some police might respond. Use of force has always been and always will be needed in fighting crime and violence. This true but how we police and utilize that force is judged by society who are often times unfamiliar with police strategy, operations and tactics and therefore judged through the eyes of society based on what they know about police which is all to often what the see on television and their social media networks. While police state, they cannot release information due to a pending investigation and are gathering the facts they can release at a later time, the false narrative travels like lightening around the Country and the globe creating unrest and violence we are seeing currently here in the United States.

Part of the problem is in how we develop our people which is often telling them what to do that centers on one way of doing something, a school solution. In the book John Poole talks about "not using all available techniques" and explains for an infantry squad, a tactical technique is like an offensive or defensive football play.

"Fire teams, buddy teams, and individuals also have techniques. Those for a lone rifleman might be compared to a halfbacks reverse or a lineman's stunt. Most football teams enjoy a full portfolio of plays, each with its own composite moves for subordinate elements. It's a small wonder then, that any infantry squad that too closely follows the few procedures in its manual will have trouble performing a difficult mission. Without more than one maneuver/formation to choose from, no tiny infantry element could regularly move down the field or hold the line. That's because no offensive or defensive action is good enough to keep on working after the enemy has already seen it."

Policing suffers from this same problem. Official policy and procedure manuals mostly contain a single tactical solution for each general category or type of crisis they may respond to under ideal conditions. That's all the average police officer is required to know.

In Guardian Joe, John observes, within such a hamstrung environment, infantry units tend to fight exactly how they were trained, despite differing circumstances. For example, if the orders are given to storm an enemy position, everyone automatically assumes that it has to be done at once. This along with, expecting everything to go as rehearsed and moving to fast for existing circumstances, hamstrings policing as well.

"The extent of ones forward motion plays an important role in how surprised the enemy will be, but it need not be rapid or upright."

This is an important force multiplier for police to grasp when it comes to tactical responses and approaches, as all too often responses are emotional reactions that have officers rushing into dangerous situations. Poole makes an important distinction.

"While this slower application of the speed principle takes more patience, it also permits continually readjusting to unforeseen circumstances. Its alternative, outright charging somebody can prove very unhealthy. "

With ambushes of police up and rifles used in almost half of police officers killed in the line of duty, how we approach the scene of a crisis and adapt is critical.

AMBUSHES. The report Making it Safer reveals that over 60% the officers assassinated by ambush during the study period “were not on a call or engaged in any enforcement activity. One in five of those ambushed “were seated in their patrol vehicles.... Many of [the others] were simply eating, sitting on post, or...targeted and killed while at their home or on their way home.

“The use of rifles was almost equal to the use of handguns in ambush-style shootings, and the overall analysis...showed an increasing distance at which officers were shot and killed.”

Guardian Joe is packed full of information of value to not only the military but to policing as well. There are chapters in the book that illustrate lessons learned from the police the military could use for example U.S. Grunts Now Need Policing Skills that explores critical questions such as; how might law enforcement abilities help the rifleman? Why is he deemed to preoccupied to need them?

"Policing Skills Long Sought for Infantry: Ever since President Truman referred to America's response to North Koreas invasion of South Korea as a "police action" under the U.N. (United Nations) auspices, Unconventional Warfare (UW) experts have stressed the correlation. No war since Korea or Vietnam has been as heavily contested on the battlefield, but they all obey the same underlying principle, the "hearts and minds" of the people matter. Civilian populations tend to be more gently treated by peace-loving policeman than by combat oriented soldiers. That's how the two roles have started to converge."

And SWATs Can't Use All U.S. Infantry Tactics that asks; why aren't all military maneuvers helpful to policeman? Which ones would prove counter productive?

"Some U.S. Infantry Maneuvers of No Use to Policeman: Most active policing gets transacted through one or two-man patrols, backup, swarms, and squad sized SWAT attacks. So, almost all military patrolling procedures are applicable, except for ambushing. During any surprise confrontation in law enforcement, the suspected criminal must be verbally apprised of police presence and given a chance to surrender. U.S. military ambushes are not traditionally like that. Maximum firepower gets first applied to the "kill zone" and then bodies are searched.

Some military assaults are also applicable to law enforcement. Yet, the customary "base of fire" would not usually be possible because of the chance of stray bullets striking civilians. More appropriate to police work would be a completely quiet form of entry more common in Asian militaries i.e.., a short range-infiltration attack. Sneaking into an upper story or bottom center of a contested building, for example, could greatly facilitate the buildings eventual seizure. Such a maneuver also has a better chance of retrieving hostages alive."

I highly recommend Guardian Joe! The book is packed full of great information not only for the military but for policing as well. Policing a free society is a tough job. It requires we understand how our strategy, operations and tactics influence the moral, mental and physical dimensions affect the free society we police. There are other great chapters to include; Fully Embracing a Higher Form of Combat, Advantages of This Less Lethal Approach, Historical Examples of Not Killing, Enough Skill to Make Less Force Possible, Increasing the GI's Situational Awareness, Contact Avoidance, Idiosyncrasies of 21st Century Conflict, Only Fighting When Strategically Helpful, When One's Life Hangs in the Balance and the final section How Modern Wars Are More Easily Won. John has done a fantastic job researching and writing this book.

"This is a critically important book that provides deep in sights into the issues of morality in the way we conduct military operations in the 21st Century. It is a must read for our political and military leaders as well as for every member (including the lowest ranks) of our Armed Forces."~ Gen. Anthony C. Zinni USMC (Ret.) former Head of CENTCOM