Route Planning and Analysis
Developing a Vehicle Ambush Counter Measures Program
A protective movement is the process of getting your principal from Point A to Point B in a timely and safe manner. To do so in a vehicular motorcade it is essential that a vehicle ambush counter measures program be developed specifically addressing all aspects of the vehicular movement. Historically, a target's greatest vulnerability is while in transit between work and home while in a vehicle. The terrorist will know where a target's journey will start and end. In doing so, they know at least two points where an attack can take place. With surveillance, they can establish a target's routine and route between these two points. Establishing this expands the potential attack points significantly. The most common advice offered to executives and high profile targets is to vary your routes. Seemingly meaningful advice, this is usually seriously flawed. As one security expert stated and Tony Scotti concurs, "You can change your route to work each day, but when you drive out of your driveway, you've got to turn either right or left, and the terrorist knows this too." If you are dealing with an ambush at this point it is too late.
Since the route the intended victim takes is so critical to the targeting process, a vehicle ambush countermeasures program must include thorough route planning and analysis. Unfortunately, expedience, lack of time, and sudden changes to the protectee's schedule all contribute to route planning and analysis being neglected. Proper route planning conducted in conjunction with proactive and alert counter surveillance will provide the ability to adjust routes and timing in a meaningful way to avoid an attack. In hostile overseas areas, which just cannot be avoided, route planning will provide the protective team with the knowledge to dominate the terrain and remove the element of surprise from the attacker.
The essence of the plan is developed by:
Planning primary and alternate routes.
Analyzing the routes for choke points, danger zones, safe havens, and the zone of total predictability.
Documenting the analysis and route development.
Establishing immediate actions to be taken in the event of an attack at critical junctures in the route. These actions are counter ambush drills composed of a combination of evasive maneuvers and achieving fire superiority over the attacker.
Plan your routes through a map reconnaissance. This can be done through a paper map (Mapsco) or through the numerous mapping software programs available (Street Finder, etc.)
1. Analyze the route and identify the:
a. Zone of Total Predictability
Is that part of a route where you must go that way. Examples: a single road into a cul-de-sac, a single road that must be taken to get to a highway, a dead end street.
b. Check Points
Something in the terrain that is visible day or night in any weather. Examples: skyscraper, cellular tower, a railroad crossing, and large bridge.
c. Choke Points
Areas where vehicular movement is restricted and you are forced to slow down. Examples: a bridge, a tunnel, an s-curve, one-way street, construction zones, traffic lights, stop sign, rotary, and blind curve.
d. Observation Points
An observation point is a location such as a dominant terrain feature where covert observation may be conducted over a critical portion of the route. This location may be a building, a hill, or even something overt such as a sidewalk café.
e. Danger Zone (DZ)
Similar to a choke point, a danger zone is an area where movement is not only restricted, but additionally you may have to stop due to circumstances not under your control and concealment is offered to a potential attacker. If obstacles are present (fixed, as in construction, an accident - staged) or (mobile, as in a vehicle) this becomes a point of likely ambush. A choke point can become a danger zone when the above factors are present.
f. Safe Havens
A safe haven is a place that is ideally open 24 hours a day or if not, is open when we drive by, there are people around, communication means (telephones, radios) are available, and medical assistance is available. Examples: Police and Fire Stations, Hospitals, Acute Care Centers, Truck Stops.
2. Every destination your principal goes to should have a primary and alternate route. In high threat situations, more than one alternate route should be planned. The results of your route analysis should be documented in a crisis management binder that accompanies the driver(s). On one side are the written directions while on the opposite page is a strip map of the route with both danger zones and safe havens marked. Addresses and telephone numbers for the safe havens should be obtained and updated. All members of the protective team should be familiar with the contents in the event, duties change in an emergency. This includes the principal.
3. Drive (run) your routes and determine through observation what is normal activity for that area at that time. This is called Surveillance Detection Route (SDR). When performed by an advance agent, it is counter surveillance.
A good technique to use is to note all activity verbally on a voice-activated tape recorder as you drive. Times and distances as noted on the odometer should be recorded as well. The results should be transcribed.
4. An advance agent should check the route to be traveled prior to the protective movement, looking specifically for pre-incident indicators, factors out of the ordinary that lead one to believe that an attack is about to occur. This is your early warning capability.
5. In long term or high threat situations, a counter surveillance team should be established and routes checked on a regular basis.
The Relationship between the Hostage Taker, the Hostage and the Negotiator
On an August morning in 1973, an escaped convict took four bank employees hostage in Stockholm, Sweden. For 131 hours, the hostages shared a bank vault with another convicted criminal, the former cellmate of the hostage taker, who had demanded his release from a nearby penitentiary. Despite their ordeal, after the incident, the hostages reported that they had no ill feelings toward the hostage takers and, further, that they feared the police more than their captors. Psychologists called this newly discovered phenomenon the Stockholm Syndrome.
A coping mechanism also known as the Survival Identification Syndrome, the Common Sense Syndrome, or, simply, transference, the Stockholm Syndrome usually consists of three components that may occur separately or in combination with one another: negative feelings on the part of the hostage toward authorities, positive feelings on the part of the hostage toward the hostage taker, and positive feelings reciprocated by the hostage taker toward the hostage. Although a recognized phenomenon, during the last 25 years, the Stockholm Syndrome has been overemphasized, overanalyzed, overpsychologized, and over publicized. Those occasions where the Stockholm Syndrome actually occurs remain exceptions to the rule. In fact, most hostages do not identify or sympathize with the hostage taker, nor do they see the police as their adversaries. Rather, they realize that the hostage taker represents the problem, and the police, the solution. They also understand that, in general, the police should not acquiesce to the demands of hostage takers. Thus, with some notable exceptions, during a critical incident, hostages will behave in a manner that does not put their lives in jeopardy.
According to the FBI's Hostage/Barricade System (HOBAS), a national database that contains data from over 1,200 reported federal, state, and local hostage/barricade incidents, 92 percent of the victims of such incidents reportedly showed no aspect of the Stockholm syndrome. When victims who only showed negative feelings toward law enforcement (usually due to frustration with the pace of negotiations) are included, the percentage rises to 95 percent. In short, this database provides empirical support that the Stockholm syndrome remains a rare occurrence.
Despite such evidence, some crisis negotiators may have lost sight of the fact that full-blown Stockholm syndrome occurs only in very few victims. As a result, they may continue to perpetuate some common misconceptions.
The Relationship between the Hostage Taker and the Hostage
Some researchers suggest that the transference that occurs as a part of the Stockholm syndrome commonly develops during intense life-or-death situations. In doing so, they imply that transference will occur in most crisis negotiation situations. In fact, Freudian psychoanalysts use the term to describe a phenomenon that can develop between psychoanalysts and their patients. During a session, the psychoanalyst remains nondirective and neutral, encouraging the patient to talk freely and without interruption. As a result, patients may transfer the attributes of individuals close to them - for example, their fathers or mothers - to the therapist, or they may transfer their own feelings about or reactions toward significant others to the therapist. The therapist recognizes this and uses it to help the patient change maladaptive behavior. Most important, even in psychoanalysis, the therapist does not succumb to the psychological phenomenon of transference. The same holds true in the relationship between the hostage taker and the hostage; therefore, the Stockholm syndrome rarely occurs.
Interviews with released hostages, specifically in longer-term incidents (e.g., the TWA 847 hijacking in 1985, where the hostages were held for 2 weeks, and the Cuban uprising at the federal correctional institution in Talladega, Alabama, where the hostages were held for 12 days) revealed that the majority of the hostages showed no evidence of the Stockholm syndrome. Most of the hostages expressed fear that their captors would kill them and realized that law enforcement officers attempted to do everything possible to help them.
The Relationship between the Hostage Taker and the Negotiator
The belief that a relationship forms between the hostage taker and the hostage negotiator also represents a common misconception. After interviewing numerous flight attendants who had experienced a hijacking, FBI researchers concluded that three factors must be present for the syndrome to have the potential to develop. First, a significant length of time must pass. Second, the hostages and the hostage takers must maintain contact (i.e., the hostages are not hooded or isolated in a separate room), and third, the hostage takers must treat the hostages kindly, or at least not physically abuse or verbally threaten them.
When the syndrome did develop, the hostages frequently said that because they were trapped together, they shared the same fears and frustrations as the hostage taker. That is, the hostages feared that the police would accidentally kill them in an assault, and they wanted to get out of the situation. By examining factors necessary for the potential formation of the syndrome, researchers have concluded that the syndrome cannot occur with the negotiator. The negotiator is not trapped in the same room with the hostage taker and does not share the same fears and frustrations.
In 1989, the FBI's Special Operations and Research Unit (SOARU), the predecessor to the crisis negotiation unit, and the University of Vermont surveyed over 600 police agencies, asking, among other questions, "Due to emotional involvement with the subject, has your negotiator ever interfered with or jeopardized an assault?" Not a single agency answered yes. Yet, some researchers still have concluded that some negotiators may hesitate at the critical moment and possibly cause the operation to fail. This assumption represents a variation of the belief that negotiators cannot be told about an impending assault because of the chance they may divulge critical information to the captors, thus foiling the attack. The latter belief, which persists despite no supporting empirical evidence, may prove fatal because tactical teams planning a rescue or assault may erroneously fail to use the negotiation team to do everything to make the subject an easy target.
What perpetuates so many misconceptions and erroneous beliefs about the infamous Stockholm syndrome? First, many find it provocative. In the original incident, a female hostage allegedly had consensual sex with one of the hostage takers. Moreover, law enforcement training reviews of actual incidents understandably tend to focus on those involving extraordinary circumstances. In addition, the exceptions prove more interesting, prompting additional discussion. Because the exceptions gamer so much attention, they seem much more prevalent.
Finally, the Stockholm syndrome remains overemphasized because of its psychological nature. Historically, law enforcement negotiation has been psychologically oriented. Because crisis negotiation represents the attempted verbal manipulation of the behavior of others, it seems natural to use the Stockholm syndrome to describe certain incidents. However, the fact that researchers can name or label a phenomenon does not mean they really understand it. In recognition of this problem, the FBI recently modified the abnormal psychology portion of its basic crisis negotiation course to downplay the use of labels. Instead, the FBI's basic course emphasizes active listening and crisis intervention skills.
Law enforcement should continue to study the Stockholm syndrome, while keeping in perspective the extent and frequency of its occurrence. Although each person's reaction to being taken hostage remains unique, a set of behaviors may occur with some victims. The syndrome can consist of one or more of the following behaviors:
* One or more hostages may exhibit anger and frustration (negative feelings) toward police, believing either that the police are not doing enough to end the incident or are preparing an assault that may further endanger the hostages.
* One or more of the hostages may begin to show sympathy (positive feelings) toward their captors, believing that they are not such bad people or trying to convince themselves that the hostage takers will not harm them.
* The hostage takers may reciprocate and show compassion (positive feelings) toward one or more of the hostages.
Still, the syndrome usually does not develop with hostages. Although the duration of the incident remains important, the emotional intensity of the incident and perceived powerlessness of the hostages prove more important than the simple passage of time. Finally, if the victim receives or witnesses physical or psychological abuse, the syndrome is extremely unlikely to occur. Even if some aspect of the syndrome has developed, it can and usually will cease if the captors either verbally or physically abuse any of the hostages.
In short, the Stockholm syndrome does not appear as pervasive as negotiators once thought. Although depicted in fiction and film and often referred to by the news media, the phenomenon actually occurs rarely. Therefore, crisis negotiators should place the Stockholm syndrome in proper perspective.
Basic Use of Cover and Concealment
Pop! Pop! Pop! You hear these uncomforting sounds. What do you instinctively do? Hopefully, you move to cover. Most armed professionals and defense-minded citizens have conditioned their minds to instantaneously react in predetermined ways to specific danger cues. The sounds of gunfire, or possible gunfire, should elicit a move-to-cover response. Making use of available cover and/or concealment will be vital for establishing a tactical advantage if the popping sounds turn out to be incoming rounds rather than a backfiring automobile.
When & Why?
Cover and/or concealment should always be used when a projectile weapon threat exists if three conditions are present:
1) It is available and you know where it is located.
2) You have time to safely utilize it.
3) There is an appropriate amount of distance between you and the threat.
These factors, dictated by the circumstances of the confrontation, will determine whether it is unsafe or impractical to move to cover before engaging the threat. In close-quarter combat, a counter-attack will almost always precede moving to cover, even if it is nearby. If time and distance are not on your side, address the threat first, then reposition yourself behind something ballistically protective. If possible, most tactical gun-handling should be performed from a covered position. Tactical Reloads, Emergency Reloads, and Class III/Plan “B” malfunction clearance drills can take anywhere from 1.5 to 8-plus seconds to execute. Being exposed and defenseless for this amount of time during a gunfight should be avoided at all costs.
Identification & Selection
What is cover? Cover constitutes any object or barrier that will protect you from being shot as well as conceal your position. Some examples would include the engine block area of a vehicle, a solid brick wall, or a concrete planter. Concealment, on the other hand, only serves to hide or obscure your location. It does not provide ballistic protection. Some examples of concealment include bushes, vehicle doors, the interior walls of most structures, and even darkness. In certain situations, concealment is better than nothing, provided you possess the element of surprise. Look for something large, solid and distant when selecting any barricade position. Ideally, choose a barrier that will allow you to shoot from around one side or the other as opposed to over it. In reality, we may never know what size, shape, or medium of cover will be available when rounds begin flying in our direction. Therefore, it is critical that we learn to shoot from behind a variety of facades in all types of positions.
Keep Your Distance
Once you have reached a position of cover, ensure that you keep an appropriate amount of distance from that barrier. This is a sound tactic for several reasons. First, you negate the possibility of “flagging” your weapon into an unknown area. Not only would this action notify an adversary of your presence, it could provoke a sudden close-quarter struggle and the subsequent abduction of your firearm. The second reason we maintain a safe distance from a barricade is to avoid being hit by ricochets. If we are near the corner of a barricade, shooting over it or around it, the corresponding vertical or horizontal plane of that barrier, if hit, may cause a round to ricochet off that plane (depending on the medium) at an extremely obtuse angle and travel its length only a few inches from the surface. By not crowding the corner of a barricade, we may give the ricocheting round a chance to travel and elevate enough so as to continue its flight past our position. Maintaining a reactionary gap from an unknown/danger area is another reason for staying back from the barricade. If you are in close-quarters, this distance will allow you the time to react if a threat spontaneously appears. If you are outdoors with plenty of open area surrounding your barricaded position, this reactionary gap will also give you the space to move forward, thereby cutting down the angle of exposure if the adversary attempts to flank you. The final reason we keep our distance from a barricade has to do with following one of the most important tactical principles of personal combat: maximize your distance from a threat in order to minimize your exposure. The environment and the size of the barrier will determine the distance you can safely establish. You want to remain as far away from the barrier as practical, but not so far as to over-expose yourself. In some cases, such as indoor close-quarters, you may have no choice but to crowd a corner for cover or concealment. No matter what the circumstances, adapt to your surroundings and use everything to your advantage.
True tactical use of cover involves surprising and confusing the adversary. This is accomplished before, during, and after strings of engagement by alternating positions of exposure. Each time you emerge from behind cover to engage the adversary, it makes sense to fire from a different position than your last. For example, if you are using the corner of a building as your barricade, fire your first pair of shots from a standing position, disappear, and then quickly rollout again firing another pair from a kneeling position. If you were to engage the threat once more, re-emerge from a standing position. This way, we present the adversary with a slightly different target each time we expose ourself. What if you came under fire in an alley and were lucky enough to set-up behind a large (and very full) dumpster? Return fire from a kneeling position on one side, then move to the other side and engage from a standing position. Next string of fire, move back to the first side you engaged from…and so on, and so forth, changing positions and altering heights. Keep the enemy guessing. Do not allow them to fix their front sight on one location where they know you will emerge from next. Apply as many different shooting positions as practical given the size and shape of barricade you are using. Between strings of fire, make an effort to minimize the time spent not observing the “threat” area. By all means, if cover is available, use it. Just don’t let the adversary sneak-up on you while you enjoy the protection.
Fighting from behind cover may be the single greatest advantage in a projectile weapon force-on-force encounter. It affords us time to engage an adversary with well-sighted, accurate fire because we are momentarily protected from their offensive actions. When you shoot, expose only what is needed to safely fire the weapon. If you are highly skilled, consider shooting ambidextrously when applicable to maintain the lowest profile possible.
I must reiterate one critical point. In order to use cover, you must move to cover. In order to move to cover, you must first know where it is located. Always thinking tactically and being aware of your environment (i.e. Fighting Mindset) means taking note of and identifying cover and concealment around you. Knowing where cover is located before a confrontation begins is more advantageous than having to search for it during the chaotic initiation of a gunfight.