There was a discussion on Warrior Talk about what seemed like a Mumbai styled probe in San Diego. I don’t think that is the case. The USA is more easily infiltrated than India. If the goal was to get guys in-country to mount a Mumbai or Nairobi style event, the easiest way is the best way. Here is how I would do it.
The getting in is easy, just don't do it as a group. Buy your way through the Indian Reservations in the south. Every operator has duties once across, and all speak perfect English and have a passable legend.
The mission prep is easy. Obtain weapons and meet up at a given location. All comms can done on Twitter or some other soc-media in a vague way. They will all have recognition criteria, such as wear a certain thing and meet at a certain place, so on and so forth.
I will go out on a limb and predict that if there is (Heaven forbid) a Mumbai-esque event here, funded and executed by ISIS, the operators in that event could easily be US Citizens, eliminating the need to infiltrate completely…they would already be here.
Once the team is united, Mumbai is on like Donkey Kong. Not hard at all.
The duration of the event would not go on for days like in Mumbai or Nairobi, but I will say that most US First Responders are not equipped to mount an assault on a mall containing five or six dedicated terrorists. They will of course try, and good for them. But unless ALL the guys have the right training (OMG...the militarization argument again), traditional SWAT tactics will not suffice. The event, while longer than the average active shooter deal, will be over in a few hours at most...one way or the other.
I recall as early as 1990s we would cross train with USMC routinely...us learning fire and maneuver and they learning CQB. But that was totally foreign to many of our neighboring teams.
A group of SWAT guys, with US MIL combat experience, would do great in terminating these guys. But a group of highly educated, non-combat experienced, ladder-climber cops getting their SWAT ticket punched before promotion will simply be more casualties. Harsh, but that is what I think.
The public/official reactions will be mixed...I think there will be a great deal of backpedaling by Obama and his minions, as well as a hard attempt to blame someone other than the admin (a typical tactic of the left as early as the 1990s). You will see the same things seen in the years after 9/11. You will see every airport and public place crawling with MP5 and M4 carrying cops, you will see deeper involvement in Syria (who has always wanted that I wonder), and you will see more laws focusing on squeezing US Citizens.
Interestingly, I had a conversation with a friend...and old time SF guy that told me ISIS is not "just four years old". He said ISIS was a creation of the CIA back during the Afghan/Russian. The US trained the predecessors of today’s ISIS Muslims in Nevada during the Afghan/Russian war. I don't know if that is right or not, but it would not startle me to realize it was true. I recall run-ins with many Central American thugs back in the day that were hard as nails...and who I later found out were trained by the US to be better at what they did during the CONTRA years.
Wheels inside wheels.
The inability of traditional Police SWAT Tactics to conclude an event with dedicated and suicidal terrorists remains an issue. Many teams are skilled in searching and clearing, but very few in assaulting. Even the very prolific “Active Shooter Training” is often just accelerated search and clear.
Search and clear is a methodical moving through the building, hunting the bad guys, where every angle has a gun covering it and the team moves to isolate and locate the bad guys. The search and clear is slow, methodical and careful. There are shields in play as well as the use of mirrors and stealth. In its niche it works great, but it not good for everything.
There is also a tempo intended for High Risk Warrant type execution (which also covers things like Hostage Rescues, Drug Raids, and entries on Barricaded Armed Robbers). The HRW tempo is more of what you'd associate with a Direct Action. You blow the door and run over anyone in your way. If they are armed, they get zippered before everyone steps over them. A High Risk Warrant Service is in fact, an assault. Its more a race to see who gets to shoot the bad guy than a "lets do this safely boys and girls".
What I am seeing more and more however, is less and less focus on the HRW type of movement and more of what I call a “CYA type tempo”. The fear of making a mistake and getting in trouble guides everything LE does today. That may not be the case with EVERY agency and team...but by and large...I stand by what I said.
As well, in many agencies now, SWAT is a ticket punching assignment. So you get geeks and girls wearing BDUs and slinging MP5s. If you look at your team and they don't look like a rough police street gang just waiting to deploy on some bad guys, you won't get much desire to attack ISIS. I recall my team was once characterized as “Dogs just waiting to bite someone”. Yes, exactly!!
Once you have the aggression and desire...its easy to slow down and hunt. In fact, inside our circle we called it "hunting" and "assaulting". They are two different and distinct tempos and tactics. When we knew, or had intel the bad guys were armed, there was no "hunting" we assaulted...although that is not how we described it in the debrief.
But…the more heat an agency gets for "being militarized" the less capable they will be for the type of event we are discussing. And the more they gravitate toward the “safety first” style of work.
The other factor is the phrase – “Fortuitous Outcomes Reinforce Bad Tactics”. That was said at a SWAT school I attended many decades ago by Sgt. Gary Rovarino of SEB’s Tactical Unit. I think it is at play here.
Hundreds of SWAT entries happen daily without incident. And the result is an expectation that this is due to their tactics and not to the ineptitude of the opposition, or his lack of desire to fight. Drunken Billy Bob Overalls facing a team of BDU wearing Commandos will lay down his duck gun and surrender easily. I don’t see this being the case with ISIS combat veterans seeking to teach the infidels a lesson.
What you need to defeat guys like ISIS is a professional and hardened assault team that has a clear mission focus to quickly locate and kill the terrorists on contact without any words or attempts to "apprehend". Sadly, you won't find much of that in the modern police community.