Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Shakespeare’s Henry V, Act III, 1598.
I am often accused of seeing the worst in people or in situations. It is a fair judgment. I see the worst in people. I am a pessimist. I am not only concerned with what you have done, but what I think you might do, and how willing or likely you are to do it. I will always believe that you are up to no good.
I lock my doors and I carry a variety of weapons on the chance I might need them. I am very careful about where I go and what I do because the first rule of protection is limiting the risk of potential conflict. I negotiate a plan when and if conflict takes place. If conflict finds me I intend to get violent in a hurry.
Why am I like this? Well, for one thing, it was my job to be like this. I was not an intelligence analyst, though I can carry a tune in that area. I was, and still am, Force Protection and Anti-Terror (ATFP), and only people who are professionally paranoid need to work in those areas.
If you have a jolly outlook on life, you will fail in those jobs. You have to think about what might happen and then you have to find out the best way to prevent, divert, or survive it. Paranoia is a valid survival trait. There really are people out to get you.
The problem with being a pessimist and paranoid is that you cannot prove a negative. Did you lock your car or house? Did the lock stop someone from entering your home? Can you prove it? If there is no thief, how do you know your money was spent wisely?
You have no idea if the lock on your door deterred someone or not. If you put up a camera you could see the door and the camera might be the deterrent invalidating the lock on the door. Nothing is isolated, and yet, everything requires the participation of the thief or the enemy.
No one knows if the defensive plan was successful unless the enemy tests it and some of those tests are pass or fail. Which translates as this: if a force protection plan fails people die. You can have others pretend to test it, but that is not the same.
We must decide just how bad we are going to let it get before we do something. When do you simply lock your door and when do you hire an armed guard to watch it? The guard is better than a lock, but costs more money. And now you have a whole new situation to worry about.
Does the guard get a gun? If the guard does not get a gun, how effective will they be if laid against the liability of something happening? If they do have a gun, that is laid against the liability of the guard shooting.
Every single decision you make has to be weighed against the possible outcomes and then you have to decide how much you are going to accept.
That part of Force Protection is called risk mitigation. How much risk am I willing to accept and what will I do to lower that risk.
The guard might get shot while protecting my belongings. Therefore, I am going to get them a bullet resistant vest. There are several hundred on the market and the cost between $100 and $10,000. I can simply buy the most effective, but that may be throwing money away.
How likely is it that the guard will be shot? What is the crime rate in the area? I decided I needed a guard, but how much more do I need to spend in order to ensure the guard will be safe and effective?
Am I going to send the guard to training? For liability and insurance purposes, I have to. But is it the quickie course that meets the requirement and does not teach much or the more expensive and expansive tactical course?
Do you see how this works? You just wanted to make sure that no one walks through a door without permission and that desire creates thousands of variables that leave you with two main options to solve them providing you have money to accessible, comprehensive training. You can teach procedures that are generally cheap or you can spend money to fulfill the same role. You may have to do both depending upon what is guarded.
Do you know how Underwriters Laboratory rates the capability of a safe? They test it to see how long it takes to break into. They don’t bother with the fiction that no one can break in; they have a factual testing of how long it takes.
Your door may be rated at .5 seconds because that is how long it takes to kick it in. If you want an intruder to take more time, you spend more money on a better door or you put some other system in place, for example, some doors have a fire rating. That is how long the fire takes to burn through, rather than how long an intruder takes to get in.
Do you get a better door? How about the lock? It was rated at one minute? You can put a camera on the door. That does not stop someone from breaking in; it only mitigates the chance that they might try. They don’t want to be filmed so maybe they don’t attempt to break down your door.
Dozens of decisions follow every single decision you make and each one of them spider webs more decisions which cost more money. It never stops. So you have to set limits. Those limits are what you are willing to take versus how much you are willing to spend. Realistically, there is no point in spending thousands of dollars to protect hundreds of dollars in cheap furniture and other household stuff. You spend money to protect valuable things. Naturally, there is a price for peace of mind.
What is the point? We must improve our understanding for the reasons behind the decisions in order to make more informed choices. People make far too many decisions based on too little information.
My main point in proving the negative is to call attention to President Obama’s failure to stop ISIS when he had the chance. During the time he was drawing all those ‘red lines’ on Syria, he singularly failed to act on any of them. He could have worked with Russia to deal effectively with Syria and possibly undercut their Ukrainian goals by giving Putin the chance to show Russian prowess in the world again.
Every day we all face choices about how we will react to any situation. Throughout the Arab Spring, President Obama failed to gain a dominant position for the United States. He floundered at the edges. The people he put into positions of authority created problems for him that he did not adequately address.
He spent so much political capital on domestic issues that he had little energy or credibility left for foreign ones. Instead of steadfastly supporting Israel, he blames them for winning against Hamas. We have known who Hosni Mubarak was for a long time and he has been relatively cooperative to the United States. So what if he was corrupt? We negotiated with him the entire time, but the moment he is in a crisis we step back and watch him fall?
That message was heard loudly in the Middle East. We watched an ambassador die in a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and we have done exactly nothing about it. That was also heard loud and clear.
We will not protect our own and we will not bother to support those who supported us. It makes it very hard to get allies when you operate that way.
We are going to have to spend more money and lives now, when our prestige is at an all-time low, to fix a problem that could have been resolved if the President had decided to accept the risk to his pet projects and focus on the problems at large.
Or in Force Protection terms, you do not shut the door and hope that some intruder won’t kick it in. You recognize the danger and you act on it.
© 2014 The Havok Journal