March 04, 2009

A Deadly, Persistent Swarm of Gnats

A few years ago one of the guys I played Magic: the Gathering with on Wednesday nights came to a game night bubbling over with enthusiasm for a new shareware game he'd found. It was called, "Swarm Assault", and in the game the player controls swarms of various insects and uses them to capture terrain. What I didn't know until a few months ago was that global guerrilla and terrorist groups had already begun experimenting with swarming style attack formations for possible use in urban warfare. At about the same time my friend discovered the game about insects, John Robb was posting "Global Guerillas and Swarming" on his blog. Note the date of that entry: May 18, 2004

Rand, an international strategy and tactics think-tank, had published an entire book on the concept of swarm attacks in 2003. Their book, Swarming on the Battlefield, was apparently ignored by most people in the defense industry. After all, the western defense industry is driven by huge, expensive, multi-billion dollar government contracts for highly sophisticated battlefield technology like M1 Abrams tanks and F-109 Stealth Fighters. As reported in Jane's, the Abrams tank showed 'vulnerabilities' during the Iraq war. Although none of them were destroyed in tank-to-tank combat or by anti-tank missile fire, there is one paragraph that seems a bit foreboding:

Most M1 losses were attributed in the report to mechanical breakdown, or vehicles being stripped for parts or vandalised by Iraqis. There were "no reported cases" of an anti-tank guided missile being fired at any US Army vehicle.

"Vandalised by Iraqis"? Odd, because once the initial fighting settled down, several images of destroyed M1 Abrams tanks began to appear online, even though none of these were shown or mentioned in official news reports. So if they were not destroyed by anti-tank missiles or other tanks, how did the Iraqi infantry succeed in destroying them? Over at, there is an article about the Battle for Baghdad. It opens with this:

It began on Friday morning, when an American M1 Abrams tank was destroyed by an Iraqi missile in an ambush. For several hours, street-to-street fighting raged, with as much horror and confusion as the Pentagon's war planners had imagined.

Wait a minute, didn't Jane's report that none of them were destroyed by missiles? After spending millions of dollars per tank, how is it that the vehicle is so vulnerable to simple infantry? Simple, tanks have always had such vulnerabilities. You see, the men inside have to eat, they have to drink, they have to breath, they have to leave the tank to defecate and urinate. Although sleeping in their seats is possible, it's not comfortable and leaves them still feeling exhausted. If infantry can stop a multi-million dollar armored behemoth by leading it into a tank trap of some kind (a big, muddy ditch being the easiest), then it is only a matter of time before the crew have to leave, allowing the infantry to move in and drop a couple cheap hand grenades inside, destroying the tank.

Tankers who work in M1 Abrams have no fear of other tanks. The only people with anti-tank rounds capable of penetrating their armor are the French and the Israelis. Infantry, however, give them the heebie-jeebies!

The most recent use of a swarm-style assault formation by modern terrorists was the November attack on Mumbai. Last month, John Robb was back with an analysis of the Mumbai Swarm Attack in response to an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, "The Coming Swarm". Unfortunately, what this really means is that the world at large is learning for the first time the lessons learned in Israel following Black September.

In the weeks and months following the expulsion of Yassar Arafat's PLO and Fatah organizations from Jordan into Lebanon, Israel found itself under siege. Almost daily there were reports of small groups of Palestinian fighters, usually five or fewer, coming into Israeli cities and slaughtering civilians in their sleep, in shopping malls, in coffee shops, and in clubs. A "Timeline" article at highlights just a few of the most infamous, including the 1974 Ma'alot Massacre. Unsurprisingly, in 2004 a group of Chechen terrorists used similar tactics against a school in Beslan.

And that brings us to the present. As everyone knows, six security people and one driver died a few days ago in an attack on the Sri Lanka soccer cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan. (CNN initial report is here, current report is here). There is one huge difference between the recent attack in Lahore and all the others. This time the terrorists fled and as far as anyone knows, all of them survived!

Not a single commentator or analyst has picked up on this critically important detail. This was not a suicide attack. The twelve terrorists executed a superb withdrawal from the engagement, fled to a nearby alley where motorcycles had been secreted for them, and rode out of town. This lesson, that an attack can be carried out without sacrificing the participants, will not go unnoticed in the camps around the world. I am convinced that this marks a critical, albeit unrecognized, turning point in the battle for the future of our planet. If those who are fighting to convert the world into an Islamic theocracy have learned the value of living to fight another day, then instead of constantly replacing their troops, they can begin expanding them.

Sometime in the near future, in either Europe or the United States, there will be a multi-city attack featuring groups of twelve to fifteen terrorists in multiple locations taking out as many civilians as possible in a concentrated area such as a shopping mall, train station, or business district. I doubt they will start with schools, but they might, especially since by federal law all school zones are now gun-free areas! Either way, they will swarm in, take out as many targets as possible, and then they will flee. Depending on how the world responds, more attacks will follow within a few weeks or months.

The global war against fascism has just reached a turning point. By year's end, these kind of attacks will be commonplace and governments around the world will be struggling with two global crisis, the downward spiraling economy and the upward spiraling swarm attacks against unarmed populations.

Is it any wonder that unknown forces have simultaneously managed to get total or limited gun bans passed in Canada, Australia, and England, all within the past ten years? If these attacks take place in one of those three countries than we will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that our governments are fully and completely in bed with the worst enemies in the history of our world. If the attacks take place in the United States, there will be a huge media push to pass a similar gun ban in Congress but this must be avoided at all costs.

There are only two ways to counter an enemy specializing in massive swarm attacks: an armed populace or a total police state. Of the two, the only model history has ever presented is the police state and every single police state has become a despotic and total dictatorship within a decade of its establishment. Every single one.

The only hope we have to overcome the new enemy will be an armed, trained populace. If every adult carries a weapon they are proficient using, then the swarm-style assault will be negated the moment it begins. If the only people with guns are police and security, then the terrorists will simply remove the armed guards before they begin slaughtering the innocents.

This is the lesson of history that no one seems to be talking about. A vicious, anarchist-style, everywhere at once enemy is about to appear among us and the only realistic way we have to both counter the enemy and preserve our freedoms is for every able-bodied adult among us to master firearms and carry them.

Hell on earth is about to break loose. Will you be armed and ready or will you be a victim? This is the choice we each have to make, and make soon. I don't see any other possible future, and yes, it scares me half to death.