Thursday, December 23, 2004

Soft and Hard Targets

In my work travels, I have lived and worked on many different military bases from the United States to Iraq and as such, I have seen many different levels of force protection. Depending on the service and the country, the level of force protection varies from just a quick wave thru to a complete vehicle and body search. With the recent suicide bombing in Mosul, I am wondering how the bomber was able to get thru the security on the base, or at least get his bomb thru security.

Looking thru the following list of terrorist incidents, one thing jumps out at me. Each of these incidents was against a “soft target”. This probably isn’t that much of a revelation to most, but what I deem a “soft target” might be. In general, military bases or other protected places have a protected area that is surrounded by a fence/wall that is considered “safe” by everyone inside the area. The forces assigned to force protection are usually assigned to the barrier between the protected area and “Indian country”. Everyone that is inside the “safe zone” can reasonably feel confident that they are safe and have no need to carry a weapon to protect them. To me, I consider this scenario a “soft target” since the terrorist only has to get past the perimeter guard and he is “home safe”. There is a low chance that if discovered within the “safe area”, there will be security forces around with weapons to stop him since nobody else in the “safe area” will normally be carrying a loaded weapon. A “hard target” on the other hand is one where even though there are security forces deployed around the perimeter of the “safe area”, everyone within the “safe area” carries a loaded weapon in the oft chance that they may need them.

Here is a scenario to illustrate my point. For argument’s sake, say that my name, Abdullah the Bomber and I am a suicide bomber wannabe. Thru my ability to speak the English language, I am hired by a civilian contractor to work in the military dining facility. I am given a pass and everyday, after being search for weapons, I am admitted onto the base to do my job.

On the base where I work, everyone who is not a member of the security forces does not carry any type of firearm. Since I am desirous of blowing myself up and as many of the infidels as possible so I can get my 72 virgins (Why only 72? Why not a nice round number like 100?), I formulate a plan where I smuggle my bomb onto the base, one piece at a time. Eventually, I have enough parts of the bomb to assemble it, strap it to my body and blow myself up. 72 virgins, here I come!

Now, imagine that instead of working on a base where only the security forces are armed, I work on a base where everyone carries a fully-armed, personal security weapon such as a 9 mm pistol, M16 rifle, etc., at all times, all the way from the lowest private to the highest general. To make sure that everyone has their weapon with them at all times, access to the base facilities is dependent on the possession of the aforementioned weapon. Now, the ability and desire to perform my function (suicide bombing) is greatly diminished due to the risk that if detected, I can very quickly be stopped either by being arrested or shot (no dead infidels, ergo, no 72 virgins).

Now, which of the two bases would have the greatest risk of a suicide bomber? If you said the first, then this would be considered a “soft target”. The second base is what I would call a “hard target” if only for the reason that the entire base population is armed.

A quick side note: This example could also be used for countries who have strict gun-control laws and un-armed populations (Great Britain) and others whose gun-control laws are less strict and armed populations (like the US). In which country would you think criminals would be more inclined to “perform their function?” If you said the country that has a large un-armed population sitting around like sheep waiting for the slaughter, then you would be correct.

Since this type of incident will invoke an indignant response from that bastion of waste, fraud and abuse, the Congress (“If the opposite of pro is con, is the opposite of progress, Congress?”) will want to hold “hearings” (usually televised) to get to the “truth” and punish the “guilty”. After all has been said and done (more will be said than done), there will be a report which will detail exactly how this happened. In this report, it will probably come out that the base was what I consider a “soft target”. In fact, all the photos of the bombing, I haven’t seen too many members of the military carrying weapons, so this makes me think that it was a “soft target”.

Anyway, there seems to be a complete security breakdown on the base. What that entails remains to be seen, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some higher-ranking officers taking this one in the pants.


Post a Comment

<< Home