It seems every time I attempt to seclude myself from social media for a much-needed break, some major disaster or traumatic event occurs and I get dragged back to the keyboard. In this case, it was the mass shooting in Dallas, Texas, by Micah Xavier Johnson during a protest against police shootings across the country. I tried to keep my distance, only speaking about the incident with close friends. I really didn’t want to be dragged into the ignorance and conjecture that was sure to follow such an incident. Well, I failed.
The first part of the ignorance and conjecture came while the incident was still underway. The standard reports of multiple shooters and coordinated attacks hit the airwaves before anyone actually understood what was happening. As I watched the incident play out on television, I reached the conclusion that there was only one shooter. I shared this with friends and family but left it at that. It was obvious based on what was happening at the time and what was being broadcast via the news coverage. For those who haven’t read my book, Just Stop, in which I explain how to not be dragged down the slippery slope of conspiracy theories, you may not understand how I reached that conclusion. I guess you will have to read the book to find out.
But that wasn’t what dragged me back to the laptop today. Today, I watched as hundreds of people discussed Johnson’s military career and the tactics he employed during the incident. Everything from, ‘He was just a carpenter/mason. He didn’t have the kind of training necessary to pull this off,” to, “He would have just had basic marksmanship training and that’s it.”
Now I find myself in the strange position of having to explain to people, many of whom are themselves military veterans, what the military actually does.
“He wasn’t infantry! Where’d he get these skills?”
First of all, and I hate to be the one to break this to you, the infantry is not the laserbeam of precision people seem to believe they are. They aren’t Delta Force. They aren’t a SWAT team. They are a hammer used to strike a nail. It isn’t a precision occupation. I can only assume that most people don’t know what the infantry actually does, and I guess that extends to many folks in the military as well. If you have never experienced how the infantry fights, you should do some research. One thing the infantry loves doing is posting their GoPro footage on YouTube and Military.com. Go watch some of it.
It isn’t just the infantry who are taught how to fight.
I know! How shocking and absurd! Please, I will allow you to calm down while I explain something. Here goes. Ahem. All soldiers receive combat training. There, I wrote it. I hope I am not revealing anything classified by doing so. I would hate to get in trouble with the Pentagon or something. Every soldier, from the lowest ranking admin clerk to the pinnacle of precision – Delta Force – goes through basic training. Get this, basic training is…. basic COMBAT training. What? He did not just say that. Yes. Yes, he did.
Marksmanship, fire and maneuver, patrolling, ambush and counter-ambush, convoy security, urban warfare, and various other combat tasks are taught to everyone in the Army and Marine Corps. The Navy, not so much. Typically, unless you are part of the SEABEES or other “dirt navy” units, you won’t see many rifles or pistols during your enlistment. God only knows that they do in the Air Force. The USAF is like a feverdream to most soldiers. They’re like some secret society that we aren’t allowed to join. I can assume their Security Forces go through all of that training as well though.
This training is also kicked up a notch prior to a deployment to the warzone, whether that be Afghanistan, Iraq, or some other hell hole people aren’t currently discussing. Live fire exercises, weapon qualifications under normal, night, and NBC conditions are carried out by everyone heading overseas. Patrol, convoy ops, ambush, IEDs, suicide bombers, base security operations; the list is ridiculously long. These are things everyone is trained to do. Everyone. That’s because everyone’s first job is to be a soldier, basic, OD green in color, one each. Everyone has to know how to fight because no one knows how that fight is going to come, or how it will end. Spoiler alert: I know a 42A who has seen more action than a lot infantryman. I know a CBRN NCO with two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. Your job doesn’t dictate when, or where, the bullets will fly.
What Johnson displayed during the terror attack in Dallas were basic soldiering skills. The end. That’s all. Honestly, after reviewing the videos many times, I conclude that he wasn’t really even that good at it. He would have gotten a passing score during the course but definitely wasn’t a standout.
What Dallas, and Orlando before it, shows us is that our law enforcement agencies are not prepared to deal with an attacker who possesses even rudimentary combat skills. They simply aren’t. They did not move on the attacker efficiently. They did not employ basic maneuvering tactics that would have allowed them to flank the attacker and end the fight sooner. They simply aren’t trained to deal with such a threat. Now, I’m sure some agencies are better prepared than others. I have seen some intense training carried out by relatively small departments here locally. I’m sure others are following suit but new training scenarios have to be developed that will aid them in facing threats such as these. This isn’t a crazy kid shooting up a school, these are trained soldiers or terrorists, many of whom will possess a higher degree of combat training than your average police officer. That’s the scary reality we face as a nation today.
My wish has always been that everyone would stop the nonsense and look at things with an educated, rational eye. Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t trained for that either.