Last September, we reacted in horror as news of a terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya broke. We covered the incident, and then a few days later Jack Murphy hit on a topic that our readers thought was right on point:

Is it time to create a real life Rainbow Six?

Jack wrote:

We now have a list of some of the alleged terrorists behind the shopping mall massacre in Nairobi, Kenya. The mall was apparently attacked because it was known to be frequented by Westerners. The list of terrorists involved now in the media is preliminary and should not be taken at face value until confirmed.
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The names of the terrorists that have been publicly released as of now are as follows:

  • Ahmed Nasir Shirdoon, 24, from London, UK;
  • Gen Mustafe Noorduiin, 27, from Kansas City, U.S.,
  • Abdifatah Osman Keenadiid, 24, from Minneapolis, U.S.,
  • Ahmed Mohamad Isse, 22, from Saint Paul, U.S;
  • Ismael Guled, 23, from Finland;
  • Abdirizak Mouled, 24, from Ontario, Canada;
  • Zaki Jama Caraale, 20, and Sayid Nuh, 25, both from Somalia.

If true, this constitutes a true international brigade of terrorists, one that is launching operations across international borders into relatively safe places such as Nairobi. The victims from this attack are said to hail from America, Canada, France, Britain, China, and of course Kenya. We will have to wait for final confirmations on the lists of both terrorists and victims, but if true, this is one of the more clear cut examples of a non-state actor waging hostile operations across international borders with a mixed team of terrorists from across the globe.

Jack continued:

Now would be a good time for such a joint Counter-Terrorism unit to be created. Three factors play into this on the surface:

A) The war in Afghanistan is winding down, troops are being withdrawn and the SOF commitment there will draw down as well.

B) Terrorism continues to spread and escalate across the world.

C) Because of recent military and institutional experience during the Global War on Terror, there has never been this much cooperation, shared experience, and mutual learning between Special Operations units as there has been in the last ten years.


Now one year on, let’s take a look back at what’s happened in the news to see if Jack’s ‘Rainbow Six’ idea has merit.

1. Well, there’s been Syria.

2. And Boko Haram.

Does Kenya Prove It’s Time for a Real Life Rainbow Six?

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3. And AQAP.

4. 200 civilians massacred in Sudan.

5. Ukraine

6. The Kurds

7. Somalia

8. Fallujah redux


10. Central African Republic

11. Hamas

12. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

13. And sadly, it never seems to end. Genocide

So many problems, so many needs. But is Rainbow Six an appropriate solution to any or all of these?

Jack wrote, “With the overt wars in Iraq and Afghanistan all but over, there is unlikely to be a better time to form an international counter-terrorism unit than now. However, the difficulties in doing so cannot be overstated. Creating a unit like this would involve governments trusting each other like never before.”

“The doors would have to swing almost entirely open when it comes to sharing intelligence that relates to terrorism, and sharing the actual tactics, techniques, and procedures that these soldiers use… but in doing this, we would create a counter-terrorism force multiplier as the NATO nations have their capabilities enhanced. At the same time, America has much to gain as well. Our SOF also needs a “reset” to get its bearings and regain some focus. Looking at what our allies have done and are doing could be immensely helpful.”

Jack finished his article with, “One thing is for sure, if such an initiative is to be pursued, then the planning should begin today. Ten years from now, maybe in response to an emergency, is way to late. Today the odds are stacked in favor of such an international CT unit, but that opportunity may not be there a decade from now.”

So now step back from the tragedy and emotion of the events and takes this as an intellectual exercise. Time to game plan.

What did Jack get right? What did he get wrong?

What events have we missed that would have been a good use of Rainbow Six? How would they have been used?

What would the command structure of Rainbow Six be? Can we stomach our guys under UN-type command structure?

(Editor’s Note: No, we cannot use “Rainbow Six” to fix the VA. Stop that, all of you!)

(Featured Image Courtesy: AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)