Monday, July 25, 2016

After the Nice Attack, Will Cities Place Vehicle Barriers in Public Spaces?

The Bastille Day truck attack in Nice was the latest in a rather long list of vehicle assaults as a tactic for terrorism. One consequence of the attack, we may be sure, will be a new wave of streetscaping to introduce anti-ram barriers into the built environments of cities.  

Some news media have been asking the question "can a lorry attack ever be stopped?" Of course it can be stopped. There is nothing new about anti-ram vehicle barriers, even ones that are effective against large trucks. The only question is whether governments will resort to large and obvious barriers of the sort that we have at our Fortress Embassies, or whether they take the trouble to go discreet and subtle with some more architectural options.

Here's an example of large and obvious:

Subtle is better, especially in cities. One commentator is using the term "crisis architecture," which is a new one on me, but I like the idea.

As a matter of fact, my good friends in the Office of Overseas Office Buildings (OBO) a few years ago published a whole handbook full of EPIC ideas for architectural designs that protect against vehicle ramming attacks but hide in plain sight. Please browse it to get a glimpse of what I think we'll be seeing a lot of in our public spaces pretty soon.

There's more where that came from. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has its own handbook of barrier designs, some of them quite innovative. Check out, for instance, the TigerTrap:
A collapsible sidewalk and planting system designed to reduce the impact of force protection on public space while maintaining a high level of security. The TigerTrap employs a sub-grade collapsible material, installed below at-grade paving or planting. The installation is designed to withstand pedestrian traffic but fail under the weight of a loaded vehicle.

Like something out of a Road Runner cartoon, only it's real.

You've probably already seen examples of anti-terrorism architecture that blended into the landscape so well that you didn't realize what they were. Like this excellent one, for example.

And, there are also rapidly deployed and temporary barriers, like this one. The French Army could have placed that system around the Nice promenade in an hour or two, and picked it up again after the Bastille Day crowd had gone home.

Coming to a city near you.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Le Gîte Maux?

Will there be a Guantanamo-a-la-Franaise? Could be, if MP George Fenech gets his way. It would not be the first time France had a prison island, after all.
But as France struggles to adapt to the increased threat from jihadists, the French MP who led a parliamentary inquiry into the November terror attacks in Paris believes Ile de Ré should also welcome the country’s most dangerous jihadists.

George Fenech, MP for centre-right Les Republicains party, believes a Guantanamo à la Francaise could be set up on the island to house all those jihadists who are expected to return from fighting in Iraq and Syria.

"A French Guantanamo would be the simplest solution," said Fenech. "An institution dedicated to radicalised individuals would be a solution," he told right-wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles.

And Fenech believes the ideal place for an offshore prison would be Ile-de-Ré, where there is already a jail that needs renovating in the town of Saint-Martin de Ré.

Fenech says the prison could be adapted to house the “tidal wave” of radicalized fighters returning from the Middle East although the local tourist board and residents might have something to say about his plan.

The MP says he is concerned by the government’s lack of preparation for the impending return of hundreds of French jihadists if and when Isis are toppled.

-- Snip --

Fenech’s idea is not the only radical suggestion put forward by MPs since the deadly rampage in Nice.

Right wing MP Alain Marsaud wants a law passed to allow the French to carry arms in certain conditions and also suggests the creation of armed civilian defence patrols.

Other MPs have talked of arming police with rocket launchers in certain sensitive spots so rampaging lorries can be stopped, while some have talked about bringing back the death penalty.

I like the Gîte Maux idea far better than the one about rocket launchers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Bumpy Arrival For SecState Kerry at #10 Downing Street


Video courtesy of the UK Daily Mail.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was on the front steps of 10 Downing Street in London, about to meet with new U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, when he stopped to wave at the crowd.

The man holding the door presumably thought Kerry was going to stay outside and shut the door, just as Kerry turned to step inside.

Dalai Lama Tactical Tip Tuesday

"Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, “I am of no value”, is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master."

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions."

Readiness is all (as Shakespeare knew), and making yourself ready for whatever comes is an all-important attribute for anyone who prepares to use a gun for self-defense.

As His Holiness models in this meme, the shooter must make himself or herself ready. And not just for a timed drill on the range with your hands up and facing away from the targets, but ready for whatever life presents us with as we go about our daily business.

That was never more true than in this day of lone wolf terrorist attacks on public venues and the targeted killing of police in our cities. You are responsible for creating happiness for yourself and others through your own actions. Therefore, and although I realize this may seem counterintuitive, HH would have you practice with and carry the most effective handgun you can conceal.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dalai Lama Tactical Tip Tuesday

“The foundation of the Buddha’s teachings lies in compassion, and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.” - Dalai Lama XIV

Why is His Holiness laughing? Without intending offense to owners of Kimber 1911s or any other pistol with a four-figure price tag and twice that in customization, please consider what HH says about ego.

So far as I understand it, the term "ego" actually originates outside of Buddhism, in Western psychology, and it refers to the psychological construct that is our identity. In both Western psychology and Buddhism, the term refers to the self, to "I."

When you invest your ego in a firearm you fall into spiritual error. Plus, you fool yourself, because, as every shooter knows deep down inside, the more you 'improve' a pistol the less reliable it becomes. The plain GI Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1  that I was issued in the 1980s U.S. Army was near-perfect in reliability, yet it rattled when I shook it, barely had any sights, used worn plastic grips, and had practically no finish left on the slide. Carrying that pistol taught me to give up ego when it comes to defensive gun use.

His Holiness knows why he is laughing. A custom Kimber with all the most expensive improvements is a gun you show your friends. A plain Glock or a humble J-frame .38 is a gun you show your enemies.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dalia Lama Tactical Tip Tuesday

His Holiness considers life in its entirety, in the physical as well as the mental, emotional, and spiritual. In this tip, he brings all those aspects together. 

During a defensive gun use, or drill, there comes a point at which the shooter begins to fear he is running out of ammo and knows he must reload quickly. Above all, he knows he must avoid fumbling with or even dropping the fresh magazine. This is a moment that could induce panic.

At that point, HH gives some plain common sense advice: rely on the tactile feel of the reload in your hand to guide your actions, and your physical senses will complement your mental and spiritual efforts and give you reassurance and a sense of calm.