Letter from the Editor: Terror Turns 21Adam Smith
As you read this, babies born on or immediately after Sept. 11 will be old enough to have their first beer. Like most of you, I can still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing that day — and it certainly doesn’t feel like 21 years ago. In a bitterly ironic twist of timing, we’re also passing the one-year anniversary of the fall of the Afghan capital of Kabul to Taliban forces. Watching a decades-long campaign that cost close to 3,000 American lives crumble on live TV in a matter of days was a tough pill for many people to swallow — particularly those of us who spent a significant amount of time there, or who had loved ones killed or wounded. In the aftermath of such a shocking turn of events, the self-reflection that our politicians and mainstream media outlets are trying to avoid led us back to a singular question: Are we safer from terrorism now than we were on September 10, 2001?
The answer is going to be personal for each of us, but I cannot in good conscience say “yes.” When you combine this with the stark reality that many law enforcement agencies around the country have been gutted by attrition and restricted by policies resulting from the events of the last two years, we face an equally severe but more immediate question: Where does that leave you and your loved ones? It is this question on which our brand is built.
So, we decided to take this solemn anniversary time to focus on preparedness information regarding terror-related threats. While we hesitate to whip the dead horse of “no one is coming to help you,” police forces are now openly telling their citizenry that … well … no one is coming to help them. In the face of a violent radical threat (pick your flavor of perverse ideology) such as an active shooter, improvised explosive, or vehicle attack, you may be left to your own devices. Even with a best-case police response time of only a few minutes, it’s the first few minutes that often shape how you weather the rest of the event. This is part of why we feature not one, but two separate articles in this issue dedicated to behavioral profiling and its development. If you can see the behavioral cues of a malicious actor before they initiate their attack, you can be significantly ahead of the reaction curve.
Our Bag Drop column focuses on loading out a medical response bag. We’ve seen time and time again that, in any kind of mass casualty scenario, medical training and equipment is equally important to, if not more important than, firearms. But that’s not to say that the value of firearms should be ignored. In that vein, I’ve contributed an article based on my experiences at the Haley Strategic D5 Kalashnikov carbine course. Even if you don’t regularly shoot AK-pattern rifles, they’re prolific throughout the Global War on Terror, including among extremist elements here at home. It may behoove you to be familiar with their operation.
There are also two stories directly from the frontlines. First, Robert Young Pelton discusses the time he spent in post-Ghaddafi Libya and how drone warfare has shaped modern counterinsurgency practices. Another war correspondent and RECOIL OFFGRID alum, Hollie McKay found herself trapped in the middle of Afghanistan as the country disintegrated around her. Not only is this story a first-hand account of total collapse, but a testament to her resourcefulness and quick-thinking to not only escape unharmed but return several times after the U.S. government’s complete withdrawal.
We hope that none of you ever wind up face-to-face with the consequences of terrorism. At the same time, we’d be foolish and reckless to not acknowledge its legitimacy as a potential threat to our everyday lives. Train regularly. Train seriously. Stay “Left of Bang” on the disaster time line.
Keep an eye on our Recoil Offgrid Issue 51 page for an up-to-date list of articles from this issue as they appear online.