Think Like the Enemy

Fort Hood … Charleston … Colorado Springs … San Bernardino … Columbus … Orlando … Dallas.

The tragic massacres in these cities and their aftermaths of aching grief will forever haunt our memories.

For those reasons and many more, we must accept the very real likelihood that the United States will face more active shooters, more acts of terrorism and more acts of senseless violence.

To prepare, we must all take our thinking to a new level when it comes to personal security. And we must do it as quickly as possible.

We need to develop models of personal security and strategic countermeasures to help protect our families as well as we can from future attacks.

These models must contain two elements.

  1. They must provide a step-by-step plan to respond to threats, including contingency plans so your family can adapt to any crisis to minimize the threat risk.
  2. They must be applicable to the types of threats that are possible, including conventional and unconventional methods of attack.

We now understand more than ever that our enemies will go to any extremes to accomplish their objectives. Isn’t it time for us to learn how to think like them?

By learning how to outthink them, by training smarter than they train, by being more vigilant, and by watching out for each other, we can reduce the risk to our families, friends and community.

Let’s start right now by learning to think like the enemy.

In any conflict, information is the first and foremost priority. The enemy will go to great lengths to collect all the information they can on a target.

They will perform surveillance on the target whether it is an inanimate object, such as a building or bridge, or whether it is a person or a group of people.

Your enemy will study all security measures, including surveillance cameras to help them gather information.

Your enemy will want intelligence on anything that helps them discern patterns. If they can establish a pattern of activity for a building or for a single person, then their target becomes predictable.

And if you’re predictable, you are a “soft” target … an easy mark.

Surveillance of a target includes taking photographs and videos, making notes, sketching illustrations, and drawing maps of a structure. For a building, they will study the people who work there and the people who visit. The enemy wants to find people who can be blackmailed or bribed to help them.

When gathering data on a person, the enemy will apply all the same techniques and principles to learn the person’s habits and daily activities. The adversary will also seek out information on the target’s family, friends, employees and work associates.

When the target has a family, the children will be the prime focus of intelligence gathering. Gathering information on children is typically easier because they have highly specific routines, such as going to school on a regular schedule.

So it’s easy for the adversaries to make detailed notes about security measures at their school. The enemy will assess things like perimeter fencing, perimeter access control, building access control, physical deterrents, and alarm systems.

After the enemy selects a target, they will study and practice traveling every route to and from the target. And they will cover these routes in all appropriate types of transportation, from cars to buses to bicycles. If it’s not a suicide operation, they will plan and drill on using numerous escape routes.

The adversaries will study communication systems so they can either use them to their fullest benefit or so they can neutralize them to disrupt our lives or to foil law enforcement.

The adversaries may even spend lots of time studying the skills they need to execute complex plans. Past examples of this include learning how to fly an airplane and learning how to drive large commercial vehicles.

Or they may study engineering or architecture at a university. But their scholarship only cloaks their real intentions, such as learning to read schematics to assess weaknesses in a bridge or building.

They can, and do, enter and reconnoiter restricted areas. They find ways in by studying access-control points, the entrances and the exits, and the people who work in the area, especially the people who control the access points.

The enemy will usually study weapons, even if they learn just enough to accomplish a single task, like detonate a bomb or fire a semi-automatic rifle. On a grander scale, they will study the physical and psychological impact of various weapons so they use them as effectively as possible.

In many instances they create and develop their own weapons. They may employ scientists, doctors, specialized engineers and other professionals in their pursuit of terror.

They may also purchase various weapons of mass destruction — biological, chemical or nuclear — from the black market or from government or private sponsors. And they are highly skilled at developing such connections.

They will carefully gather information on any tactical countermeasures, such as the reaction time of SWAT teams and bomb squads. They are familiar with how police and EMS respond to terrorist attacks. And they have proven that they can use this information to their benefit.

Next, the enemy will vigilantly study any and all physical and electronic security measures and countermeasures that exist both inside and outside the target. They will also survey guard houses, perimeter fencing, and surveillance cameras. They will analyze how they can bypass the security measures as well as how they can hack them to use them against the target. They also study building materials to find weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Even with all that has happened to us as a society, most Americans are still complacent when it comes to their personal security and safety. If we are going to defeat this enemy, we need to change our mindset.

We are dealing with an enemy who is unpredictable, cunning and has no regard for human life. Even worse, these villains are often completely unknown to us — until they strike.

Starting now, I want you to review all of your vulnerabilities and weaknesses. And I strongly recommend that you consider training and education to help you gain a tactical advantage over these deadly enemies before they strike again.

Until next time, stay alert, check your six, put your back against the wall and stay safe!


Look: You can’t predict when and where violence will strike.

But you CAN take steps to prepare and give yourself the best chance of surviving and returning home safely to your family.


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