LESC Links May 20th 2010

Stratfor: Setting the Record Straight on Grassroots Jihadism

In the wake of the botched May 1 Times Square attack, some observers have begun to characterize Faisal Shahzad and the threat he posed as some sort of new or different approach to terrorism in the United States. Indeed, one media story on Sunday quoted terrorism experts who claimed that recent cases such as those involving Shahzad and Najibullah Zazi indicate that jihadists in the United States are “moving toward the “British model.” This model was described in the story as that of a Muslim who immigrates to the United Kingdom for an education, builds a life there and, after being radicalized, travels to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and then returns to the United Kingdom to launch an attack.

A close look at the history of jihadist plots in the United States and the operational models involved in orchestrating those plots suggests that this so-called British model is not confined to Great Britain. Indeed, a close look at people like Shahzad and Zazi through a historical prism reveals that they are clearly following a model of radicalization and action seen in the United States that predates jihadist attacks in the United Kingdom. In fact, in many U.K. terrorism cases, the perpetrators were the children of Muslim immigrants who were born in the United Kingdom, such as suicide bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer and Hasib Hussain and cyberjihadist Younis Tsouli, and were not first-generation immigrants like Faisal Shahzad. Continue reading

Taking the Offensive: The Utility and Limitations of Raiding

By Adam Elkus

What can broadly be considered raiding strategy deserves consideration as an alternative to global counterinsurgency. However, its utility is limited and must be bounded within a broader review of American grand strategy. This paper addresses the utility and limitations of raiding and punitive expeditions. Both raiding and global counterinsurgency are valuable approaches in pursuit of strategic goals but should not be elevated to the centerpiece of national security policy--especially in light of underdetermined grand strategy.

“ The modern idea of the ‘strategic raid’ has come to be equated with rapid, decisive operations like the conventional campaign of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. However, a true strategic raid in the classical sense refers to a tactical or operational mission against a target of strategic importance..”

A great article by Adam Elkus with great insights into raids as tactics in the operational battlespace, and there importance to our overall strategy dealing with today's asymmetric threats  Focus is on the synergistic effect of ends, ways and means. Very interesting and well thought out piece. ~ Fred

COL John Boyd on the Essence of Winning and Losing!

“The essence of winning and losing is in learning how to shape or influence events so that we not only magnify our spirit and strength but also influence potential adversaries as well as the uncommitted so that they are drawn toward our philosophy and are empathetic towards our success.” ~Col. John Boyd

The strategic and tactical mindset should have these words from Boyd in mind while we interact with our environment  and our adversary. Winning through skill and the ability to adapt these skills to a given set of circumstances in an effort to set up the outcome is know as operational art. 

Operational art in the world of conflict is the link that synergistically connects strategy and tactics. Conflict is a clash between multiple complex adaptive systems trying to impose itself on the other. Conflict can turn violent or it can be resolved peacefully. Our strategy as protection professionals is to impose our will on the adversary. To do so we must use our ability to interact with our adversary who is an independent and animate force with its own objectives and plans. Interaction helps you control the dynamics of the situation on your terms. Continue reading

Philadelphia Sgt. lied about being shot

Cop who had intentionally shot himself sparked a massive manhunt

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia police sergeant made up a story about being shot by a black man while on patrol last month and actually intentionally shot himself, possibly to get attention or a transfer, the city's police commissioner said Tuesday.

Sgt. Robert Ralston, 46, confessed to making up the story and will have to pay the costs of the massive manhunt that followed, Commissioner Charles Ramsey said. Ralston has been suspended with intent to dismiss, but will not face criminal charges because granting immunity was the only way to obtain his confession, Ramsey said at a news conference. Continue reading

Not good at all! Maybe there is something more going on here (stress, anxiety, substance abuse???) I do not know but the behavior, the outright lying about being shot does the policing profession no good what so ever. Tensions are high already and police are often subjected to extreme violence and must respond. Cases like this only make it that much more difficult in our efforts to have an affect on crime and violence. Breeding Distrust does us no good.

Strength of character is the key to preventing these types of things from happening. If you see a cop stressed and out of sorts do something, intervene. If the report here is true and the officer shot himself…there had to be signs he was off his game, either missed or ignored.  ~Fred

Homeland Security Report 208

The May 2010 issue of the Homeland Security Report is available for Free download.

This month's issue covers:

  • “Spice” - Public Safety Issue
  • Threat Hidden Thumb Drives
  • Times Square Bombing Case
  • Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
  • Terrorist Watchlist Screening
  • Secure Border Initiative
  • Free Resources
  • Lighten Up
  • Terrorism Calendar

The Homeland Security Report can be downloaded from the "Homeland Security Reports" section or from the following link:


To Be or To Do: Col John Boyd's Words of Wisdom:

“Tiger, one day you will come to a fork in the road,” he said. “And you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go.” He raised his hand and pointed. “If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments.”

Then Boyd raised his other hand and pointed another direction. “Or you can go that way and you can do something - something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference.”

He paused and stared into the officer’s eyes and heart. “To be somebody or to do something.” In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do. Which way will you go?”

This is my favorite quote by far. I love it as it  discusses strength of character and integrity. It discusses doing what's right even at great risk to yourself personally and professionally. Sometimes we have to make choices in life that cost us. But if that cost is for the right reasons as in accomplishing something, TO DO something that benefits all, well, hell then its worth it!

Today I needed a dose of Boyd’s wisdom. I hope you find it as useful as I ~Fred

Beyond Active Response: An Operational Concept for Police Counterterrorism Response

My Saturday morning Coffee and Conversations topics are usually my own thoughts on topics related to law enforcement and security. Operational art has been a big topic I have written about as its key to getting inside our adversaries decision making cycle, allowing us through interaction within the operational environment to develop insight and innovative tactics  to seize the initiative.

Today's article Beyond Active Response: An Operational Concept for Police Counterterrorism Response by John Sullivan and Adam Elkus is such an important article to law enforcement and security's efforts at preparation and readiness, I had to post it here.

“The concept of operational art involves both a conceptual and practical leap for the police service. It involves adapting the military concept of operational art to the civil environment. So what does operational thinking necessarily mean for police command? It means being able to conceptualize and direct the whole scope of the tactical engagements occurring within the operational space according to a central operational idea. This idea should seek to maximize the asymmetric advantage already possessed by the defenders into play.”

The concept of operational art is not new and has been utilized in the military throughout history. In order for law enforcement to be effective in dealing with both conventional and unconventional and evolving threats, its a concept we must begin to grasp, understand and utilize in full spectrum operations. In other words we must get much, much better at applying what we know in the context of what's unfolding on the street  This article explain it very nicely and is a must read.

I will say we have a long road to hoe in reshaping the law enforcement culture, but with work like this explaining the concept of operational art and full spectrum policing very clearly with lessons from the past and insights into the future. We can most definitely make headway. Job well done…very well done!

Stay Oriented!