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Nice, France Attack: A new security challenge

July 25th, 2016 Comments off

In last month’s blog, I wrote about active shooter strategies being the next possible trend in favored terrorist tactics against soft target locations. The horrific attack along the beachfront in Nice, France at the Bastille Day celebratory fireworks that killed 84 and wounded dozens more has been more thoroughly investigated. The initial reports of this being a ‘lone wolf’ scenario were not accurate. It was well planned and premeditated as cell phone records, computer data, and other intelligence sources are indicating. Five suspects have been arrested since, suspected of being accomplices in the planning stages. The scariest dynamic of this incident, however, is the sheer simplicity of the weapon of choice. Yes, Mohamed Bouhlel did have a firearm, but that was not the primary killing instrument used. A heavily loaded truck can be quite a destructive force. That now sets a very disturbing precedent.

Besides guns and IEDs, we now have to worry about heavily loaded trucks. Make no mistake; the effectiveness of this attack will inspire others with evil intentions without the means to acquire guns or explosives. This attack now brings into question how to secure large gatherings of people for holiday and sporting events, outdoor public celebrations, or even large lines of people waiting to enter crowded venues. The list is endless and presents a security challenge that is not easily met. The permanent types of vehicular barriers (bollards, heavy planters, and rising wedge type barriers) typically seen around buildings to stop onrushing vehicles are great but what can be done about temporary gatherings or conditions that would present the same vulnerability? The temporary tools that come to mind are:

  • The moveable jersey barriers that are used in highway construction projects
  • Arranging large parked vehicles for protection
  • Roadblocks surrounding an event
  • Devices to destroy tires of any on-rushing vehicles

None of these are guarantees but if used creatively and perhaps in layers or perimeters might afford some protection, if not a deterrent. Then there will always be the question about cost and ‘do we really need this’ type thinking. This will haunt security professionals for quite some time. For example, what will they do at the Olympics in Rio for any last minute changes regarding this type of possible threat? I wish I had all of the answers. Tactics will always change, and we have to be innovative enough to react accordingly and even try to foresee what we really don’t want to.

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