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Ralf Kassner: Understanding the battle of minds allows you to develop an effective combat mindset for your priority mission parameter.

About the author

Ralf Kassner, a former member of the German counterterror units GSG 9 and SEK. His operational experience includes hundreds of operations to counter terrorist threats, organized crime, and hostage situations. He is the founder of Wodan Security Germany and the International Bodyguard Conference (IBC).

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Understanding the principle of “multiple attacks” and “unknown parameters in dynamic situations”

The Article

Berlin… 18:03:

The first emergency call comes in.

A bomb exploded near the entrance of a popular and highly crowded summer festival in the city.

Dozens dead. Hundreds injured.

Berlin… 18:06: Incoming reports about several men randomly stabbing passengers in a Berlin subway station.

Simultaneously, videos on social media show attackers stabbing people on the streets of Berlin.

It’s unclear if the attackers have left the subway or if there is more than one group of attackers.

Berlin… 18:16:

Shots fired at the Berlin IMAX cinema complex.

Frantic calls flood emergency hotlines.

A group of armed men has opened fire on the movie-goers.

The attackers are everywhere in the building: in the entry hall, on the floors, and in the crowded projection rooms.

Berlin… 18:24:

A live stream on social media shows a well-known Fortune 500 Company CEO on the stage of a business congress in Berlin.

Masked men hold him hostage at gunpoint.

He reads a message from a small piece of paper.

“… I will be executed within the next ten minutes…”

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We must be prepared to counter complex scenarios

The attack scenario on Berlin is only hypothetical.

Hypothetical, yes.

Impossible? Hardly.

Europe’s Unique Lessons Learned in Counter-Terrorism

It could happen. It’s not impossible.

European jihadist groups have demonstrated again and again that they can plan and conduct complex attacks on our metropolitan areas.

They can attack in multiple groups, use various forms of attack, and execute terror operations nearly simultaneously in different areas of a city.

While my Berlin scenario was hypothetical, the attacks in London 2005, Paris in 2015, and Barcelona in 2017 were not.

Europe’s current threat environment means that we must be prepared to counter complex scenarios. And multiple waves of attacks at different sites are possible parameters.

We can never allow ourselves to underestimate:

the situation
the dynamic of a situation
the bad guys

But counter-terrorism specialists shouldn’t think only about large-scale, citywide events.

Understanding the principle of “multiple attacks” and “unknown parameters in dynamic situations” also matters for counterterror attacks on a single site event.

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Don’t underestimate the bad guys’ will and capacity to deceive you

Another scenario, same principle:

You are a close protection service member, hired to travel with a DAX-30 CEO to a small town at the Cote d’Azur, France, for a business congress.

Suddenly, a few simple but effective pipe bombs explode in the parking lot in front of the hotel.

A few minutes later, two armed men shoot tourists on the beach. Then, three guys enter the hotel lobby and stab random tourists to death right before you.

In all the confusion and panic, you may have missed the two heavily armed guys sneaking towards the door where the business congress is taking place, and your VIP has just entered the stage to give his speech.

The mayhem provides the armed men with the cover they need to make their final attack.

This scenario is basically the same as the Berlin scenario.

Only the scale of the event is different.

The tactic of the terror attack is the same:

The attackers cause distractions by attacking multiple sites.

They hide in the chaos while heading towards the primary goal of the attack.

If you get too distracted by trying to follow or understand an “outside “situation, you may miss the “inside” situation, the real threat that is evolving right in front of you.

You are missing it because you have fallen into the trap your enemy intentionally has set up for you.

Don’t underestimate the bad guys’ will and capacity to deceive you, to keep you confused and distracted.

Understanding this battle of minds allows you to develop an effective combat mindset for your priority mission parameter.

An effective combat mindset and clear focus of a mission’s priority

The participants of Wodan Security events always train in dynamic and evolving scenarios with multiple implications that must be understood and anticipated to get the training mission done.

Our training has a clear focus on:

  • Maintaining overall operational flexibility all the time.
  • Prioritizing and following clear mission parameters even in chaotic environments and dynamic situations.
  • Effective team-building skills. And Communication!

Weapon manipulation, tactics, and shooting skills are equal-weighted in our approach, but they follow our definition of an effective combat mindset and clear focus of a mission’s priority.

This article was published first in:

The Operator

Special Edition February 2022: Tactical Training

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