Another national tragedy is unfolding before our eyes. It started out with a peaceful protest and ended with a shootout that killed five police officers and wounded 12 others in Dallas, Texas last night. As details continue come in, one suspect is dead and up to three others are being interviewed in connection with the incident. I have provided an analysis of military tactics and enemy actions from the information gathered already.
First Accounts and Reports
First hand reporting is usually wrong or inaccurate. You should take caution in any initial details you hear. If you don’t have direct knowledge or first hand accounting of an incident, don’t speculate. This will only create confusion. I watched main stream media last night as they carefully juggled the reporting of the number of suspects from 1 to 5 and deaths of police from 1 to 5. As I write this, Dallas’ chief of police corrected false media reports of how the barricade shooter died. Instead of a self-inflicted gun shot, a police robot delivered an explosive device to kill the man.
Assessing the Threat
Responding units last night in Dallas had to quickly communicate the details of what was occurring. A SALUTE report is used for assessing a threat or enemy force. The acronym stands for Size, Activity, Location, Unit, Time, and Equipment. This data is then communicated to responding units – the report should be short and concise. Here is an example:
Size: 2 hostiles
Activity: shooting into crowd
Location: intersection of Wall and Broad Street
Unit Identification: affiliation to protest group
Cover vs. Concealment
There is a difference. You also have to factor in what type of weapons systems the enemy is using. Concealment is protection from observation only! Cover is shelter or protection – either an artificial or natural source, that will actually stop bullets. Many of the officers took cover behind their vehicles. The best place to be is behind the front axle and engine block.
Suppressive Fire, Fire and Maneuver
Running straight into fire without some sort of plan is not always the best idea. In order to advance toward their injured, officers had to utilize suppressive fire. Suppressive fire or cover fire, is used to make the enemy feel as though they can’t safely perform and function and have to seek cover. Dallas police used this tactic when bounding between vehicles and building structures to advance on their objective.
Tactical Field Care
Last night, officers heroically left cover to drag their injured out of the line-of-fire to position them for treatment and transport to the hospital. It’s important to assess the situation before rushing in for this type of rescue. If you get hit, now you are a liability to the team. Read my article, Help save a life: first-aid in a mass casualty situation to learn how to navigate and help treat for care under fire.
There is no hard and fast rule for clearing a room. Some SEAL teams are trained with a methodical approach, others use speed and violence of action. There is one certainty – everyone needs to be on the same page on how to flow. You can check out some SOF techniques published by SOFREP here. Dallas SWAT used similar tactics to close on the suspect who barricaded himself inside the second level of a parking garage.
Enemy Actions: Micah Xavier Johnson
After evaluating the enemy, he looked to have some type of tactical training. According to news reports at this time, he was in the US Army Reserve. No other military documentation on him is being released at this time. Here is my evaluation:
The suspect fired short-bursts, then seeks cover behind a column. He doesn’t reappear and reengage from the same spot. Each time, he pies the column and fires from a different shooting position. This hampers the Dallas Police to get a bead on him and may even confuse them as to the number of shooters involved. The only video I’ve seen is from one shooter on the ground. He is aggressive, even stalks and moves around on an officer to shoot him in the back. From my perspective, I don’t think the suspect ever looked through his sites or acquired a sight picture. He was not “shooting from the hip,” but appeared to have the rifle in a “point of aim, point of impact” posture.
Here are some fast facts about this POS published by heavy.com
Militarization of Police
This has been a hot topic issue. The officers in Dallas purposely kept a low-profile and non-aggressive posture toward the protesters and civilian population alike. As a matter of fact, Dallas Police Department has received laudatory praise for its effort in community outreach. This is a stark contrast from what we have seen in places like Ferguson where the disconnect between law enforcement and citizens was vast.
The police didn’t appear to have long guns visible during the protest. Reaction forces were staged and rifles and shotguns were stowed in officers’ vehicles. Due to the “ambush” style of the attack on the police, their service pistol was effectively worthless against the suspect’s rifle.
SOFREP is continuing to monitor this event.
Image courtesy of AP