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March 12, 2012

Comments

Phil

Phil: I'm pretty sure that you're wrong and that the Army operation in Northern Ireland was one long continuing instance of MACP.

I've got no opinion about whether the Northern Ireland Emergency Powers Act confers power of arrest on the military or not. It was your comment -

Soldiers made arrests in Northern Ireland, at first under a recognition that MACP was in place and later under the Emergency Powers Act

(emph. added)

that sparked all this off. I'm happy to forget all about the EPA (NI).

it still seems like a logistic nightmare to me, which is presumably why they didn't actually do it in Stockwell

They didn't do it at Stockwell because they had adapted a plan involving a relatively static target in an open space (solution: rooftop, rifle - the shooting of the Wookie in Four Lions is essentially Kratos in action) to a situation with a moving target in an enclosed and populated space (solution: get in close).

Somehow in all of this I'd missed - or repressed - the detail of the surveillance officer telling them not to shoot. As D^2 said, presumably that part wasn't covered in training.

Cian

Oh no I can totally see that its more likely at the end of a high speed pursuit, its the argument that almost all of them occurred after such an event that I find harder to believe. Shootings and beatings of innocent people occur all the time in the US. To pick just one example, SWAT teams shooting the wrong person is a depressingly common outcome. Just nobody much pays attention to it. And sometimes its hard to find an explanation which doesn't involve casual racism by the police officer involved.

That's why I wondered if its true (which given its Gladwell, is debatable) there was something about high speed pursuits which resulted in scandal worthy outcomes. Maybe the police mostly only beat/shoot middle class whites after high speed pursuits? I dunno.

dsquared

solution: rooftop, rifle

oh god here I go again ... presumably if we're on a rooftop, we are well outside the scope of close quarters combat training and so this is presumably the sort of thing that ought to be left to military specialist snipers or Olympic shooting contestants? Or do the Met also train snipers, which sounds pretty bloody expensive and worrying. I really think Richard is right and that a lot of the problem here is that nobody has taken ownership of this contingency plan.

Cian

I know somebody slightly who trained as a sniper in the US army, and while it was a while ago, as I understand it that was all she really trained in once she left basic. So I'm guessing a police sniper would be pretty useless for any other activities. Though maybe the requirements are higher for an army sniper.

Phil

D^2 - is this actually different from

"CO19 or whoever show up with their H&K guns and stand at a distance of less than 100m from SB"

from your own scenario?

Dan Hardie

I'm pretty sure that the Army were arresting people under the Emergency Powers Act as late as 1973, because there's a mention of it in A.F.N. Clarke's memoir of his tour of Belfast in that year, 'Contact'. But Clarke may have remembered things wrongly.

Certainly there's no military power to arrest civilians unless there has been some kind of formal request by the civil power. Did the SRR have that power in July 2005 or were they essentially being expected to make heavily armed citizens' arrests? As I say, it's an interesting question, and I haven't seen it answered, or even asked, in the media.

Dan Hardie

Jakob: yes, I expressed myself badly. The MP5 is a very accurate weapon in a CQB environment, but it will be less accurate at the ranges the standard soldier is trained to fire at. The standard military shooting test, which every soldier must pass regularly, involves firing at targets 100m, 200m and 300m away- really not too relevant to building skills for the mainly CQB situations that armed police will confront. The MP5 and G36C, by repute, are very accurate weapons for those tasks.

By which I mean- they are used for that purpose by Special Forces, which have very big budgets, considerable discretion over how they use them and a very good track record in buying the best kit, unlike the general defence procurement farce. Certainly much of the best new medical trauma kit (combat application tourniquets, haemostatic agents) was introduced to the British military by SF.

Dan Hardie

Phil: '(solution: rooftop, rifle - the shooting of the Wookie in Four Lions is essentially Kratos in action)'

Yes, exactly. I first saw 'Four Lions' on a laptop on a patrol base in Helmand. It has a cult status among the British army, which surprised me at first, but shouldn't do. When you've stopped people at gunpoint, and come close to shooting unarmed civilians (which I nearly did, twice), you realise it's less a comedy than a documentary.

dsquared: I am pretty sure The Met do train people for longer-range shooting, but that is something they can ask the military (which in practice would be Special Forces) to do under MACP. I don't know whether the Met will have dedicated teams in the long-range marksman role, or whether if they really need that kind of job doing they'll ask the military.

I do think that the fewer things the police rely on the Army for, the better. But if a particular capability is likely to be rarely used, and relates to lethal force, I can see the argument for letting the military take the lead. This is the case with armed hostage rescue operations in the UK, where the SAS (and on ships or oil rigs, the SBS) are the recognised specialists, whereas in France and Germany that role is played by police units (GIGN and GSG-9, respectively).

dsquared

D^2 - is this actually different from

"CO19 or whoever show up with their H&K guns and stand at a distance of less than 100m from SB"

from your own scenario?

Probably not actually - if we assume that your average central London rooftop is about 30m above the ground, it doesn't really add much distance to the hypotenuse and I suppose it makes the "not being seen by the target" and "getting a clear line of sight" factors a lot easier.

But if this was what Kratos was about, I don't think it's credible to say that the tactics were "adapted" for Stockwell; it would be like "adapting" your strategy for penalty shootouts to a goalmouth struggle. It seems more reasonable to me to say that the Met had a potentially workable strategy for set-piece events where they had information about where the SB was going and time to set up their snipers, and "no strategy at all" for cases where they had to deal with a moving suspect heading to an unknown location.

And of course, the thing about a strategy that depends on being able to station snipers on a rooftop is that it's not exactly well-adapted to the Underground. And since we had the example of the Madrid bombing, the lack of any contingency plan for a situation remotely relevant to that threat does seem to suggest a pretty terrible lassitude in the planning dept.

Phil

It seems more reasonable to me to say that the Met had a potentially workable strategy for set-piece events where they had information about where the SB was going and time to set up their snipers, and "no strategy at all" for cases where they had to deal with a moving suspect heading to an unknown location

I'd more or less agree with that - I don't know how the second leg of Kratos, acting on intel received from the public, was supposed to pan out; that might have been more in the realm of someething that could be adapted. The Met's refusal to discuss Kratos in the context of Stockwell isn't entirely unjustified (although some of it was just the usual obstructionism, e.g. stating that a Kratos codeword was never given; it came out later that there was no Kratos codeword).

But I keep coming back to the head shot without warning. Whether you think of accidental victims (Stephen Waldorf, Harry Stanley) or cases where they got the 'right' man or woman (Savage, Farrell, McCann), the justification for the shooting has almost always been that a warning was given, the victim had a chance to surrender and the officer believed that they posed a continuing threat. As I think Chris said at the time, this looks more like the shooting of Diarmuid O'Neill - which looked like an execution with no chance to surrender. The difference that Kratos makes is that it's hard to run the O'Neill defence - "I killed a terrorist suspect who appeared to be (and was) unarmed because, in the confusion of the moment, I genuinely believed he posed an immediate threat to myself and others, and of course I shouted a warning, at least I think I did" - if there's a big folder back at the office labelled "When and how you should kill a terrorist suspect who appears to be unarmed without warning".

Alex

Having looked back at my blog posts on the IPCC report, there were actually two contingency plans, Kratos and C.

One of these provided for a static scenario, typically a big public event when an intelligence warning had been received, where police marksmen would be placed somewhere nearby. This is essentially the Four Lions Wookie scene. In this case, the marksmen would be under the direct command and control of the Gold commander, i.e. Scotland Yard, who would alone be able to order them to fire, and who would be supported by a tactical firearms adviser (call-sign TROJAN xx in the report).

The other dealt with a mobile scenario, when the potential suicide-bomber would be at large. This one foresaw a Silver-level commander on the scene, who would command all police involved in the operation, with the support of a tactical adviser. The Silver commander reports to a Gold-level commander at HQ. However, the other big difference is that the Silver commander could make the decision to fire, although in any situation except immediate self-defence he would need to get permission from Gold.

To summarise, in the first scenario, the marksmen report straight to the Gold level command, which alone can decide to initiate action. In the second, they and everybody else report to Silver, who reports to Gold. Only Silver can initiate action, but Gold retains a veto.

A standard British emergency services command structure has bronze commanders (unit level), a silver commander (on-scene chief of a specific operation), and a gold commander (force HQ), so you'll note that the static scenario carves out part of the silver commander's show and reserves it to gold level, while the mobile one keeps the standard structure.

Alex

On the night, Cressida Dick was Gold, with TROJAN 80 in support, while the Silver commander and TROJAN 84 were co-located with the firearms squad. However, in the inverse of the static scenario, the *surveillance* operation was carved out of Silver's responsibility and controlled directly from the Yard. Basically they took the two plans and smushed them together.

Hierarchically, Silver of course reported to Gold, but because she was in direct command of the surveillance squad, the firearms team and Silver's command group were actually communicating with her staff officer, so they were getting third-hand information.

There was no radio link between the surveillance team and Silver (although the two TROJANs did have occasional radio contact).

jamie

Just thought I'd drop in to say that this comment thread has been granted the prestigous 'seriously terrifying' award. Carry on.

http://dubdobdee.co.uk/2012/03/21/just-an-accident-mlud/

Phil

AIUI 'C' was one of the variants of Kratos - there were three, apparently, not the two we've been talking about (I don't know what the third one was).

Gold -> surveillance
plus
Silver -> firearms
plus
Gold -> Silver

seems like a recipe for disaster. I wonder whose idea that particular mashup was?

belle le triste

"Don't know what they 'll do to the enemy; but by God they frighten me"

(dubdobdee is me)

Dan Hardie

If Phil thinks that there's a legal obligation to shout a warning to a suspect before you use legal force, he's wrong. Under Card Alpha, which I was briefed on fortnightly every two weeks of a six-month tour, you should shout a warning if you think you have the time to do so, but if you reasonably believe that you are dealing with someone who is about to reach for a gun or detonator, you don't have to.

The police probably don't call it Card Alpha but they will have the same legal guidance: you have an inalienable right to protect your own life and others if you reasonably believe that life is under threat. A policeman or soldier can legally kill someone without shouting a warning, and they have done so.

Again, this isn't something that Kratos introduced into police operations. If Kratos hadn't been in force, the police (and military) would still be operating under the assumption that if you think you don't have time to shout a warning before firing, then you don't.

And, to reinforce a point, Kratos doesn't introduce the practice of 'shooting people dead'. Kratos says you should fire rounds into someone's head. Standard police and military SOPs say you should fire rounds into someone's torso ('centre of mass'). Both say you should do so until you believe that the person you have shot poses no further threat. Both make it very likely indeed that you will kill the person you shoot.

I've treated people with gunshot wounds to the chest- some have lived, some haven't. One guy who died had been shot three times in the upper body. Eight rounds at close range in the centre of the torso? That's almost certainly going to be lethal.

I think Dsquared's points upthread about the possibility that there was a culture in the Met firearms teams of 'all we need to think about when confronting a suicide bomber is shooting' may well be right. To know that, we'd need to look at how those firearms teams were trained and briefed as well as the precise content of the various plans they worked under.

In my opinion, the points Alex makes about the divided (and frankly chaotic) command and control arrangements buttress the main argument I'm making.

Because the command and control system was basically a big game of Chinese whispers, the Met had a surveillance team which was confident that it could stop the suspect before he reached the tube train and which thought he might not be a definite threat to life; and a firearms team which was apparently told he was a definite threat to life and which only arrived after a high-speed, high-adrenaline chase when the suspect was on the Tube train which was thought to be his likely target.

As I say, on 29 July the Met plus military personnel successfully arrested two genuine suicide bomb plotters without shooting them dead. What changed in the interim? Was it the Kratos doctrine? Or was it the command and control set-up, plus a bit of hard thinking about the practicalities of stopping a suspect? I'd strongly suspect the latter.

chris williams

Stockwell, though, is like the R101 crash inquiry: the problem isn't trying to find a point of failure, it's working out which of several catastrophic design flaws struck first.

Phil

I realise that the shots that stop somebody posing a threat are quite likely also to stop them breathing, and that a warning isn't always an option.

But I do think Kratos made a relevant difference, in that it created the understanding that, in certain circumstances, armed police would be sent out with the intention of shooting to kill without warning.

dsquared

Kratos says you should fire rounds into someone's head

I think the really worrying principle that Kratos introduced (if it did) is also "if you have intelligence reports that someone is a suicide bomber, you should walk around in a general state of believing that life is under immediate threat and so it's OK to shoot without warning". Which was presumably brought in because they had the Wookie/sniping from a rooftop model in mind.

But I remember at the time thinking and saying that there is a really serious issue of democracy here - a big decision like this ought to have been at least debated in Parliament, not slipped out in some confidential guidance. Not least because presumably the need to justify the policy to outsiders would have greatly sharpened it up in all likelihood.

dsquared

jinx

Phil

a really serious issue of democracy here

Precisely my academic friend's conclusion, as I said back here (although perhaps I should have actually said "lack of democratic accountability" rather than "Ian Blair blundering around like a fart in a trance").

Dan Hardie

I think Phil is entirely wrong when he says:''But I do think Kratos made a relevant difference, in that it created the understanding that, in certain circumstances, armed police would be sent out with the intention of shooting to kill without warning.'

In certain circumstances that's exactly what the police (or supporting military) did pre-Kratos: they certainly did it in Northern Ireland more than once. And it's what they will do without Kratos, according to what they believe they see in front of their eyes. If you see someone with what you believe to be a weapon or detonator posing an imminent threat to life, and you don't think you have time to give a warning, you will shoot.

And to be frank, anyone who is still using the phrase 'shoot to kill' as if it meant anything different from normal armed police practice hasn't been paying attention. Multiple close-range shots to the torso can reasonably be expected to kill the target. Not all close-range torso shots will kill, but neither (Gabrielle Giffords, Robert Lawrence) will all close-range head shots.

I'd be all in favour of a Parliamentary debate on these matters, though, precisely because it's a hugely important matter, and I'd like the maximum number of MPs, journalists and members of the public to think through the realities of what they want the police and military to do.

I still think you'd end up with the argument I'm making: armed police or soldiers have, under Common Law, the inalienable right to defend their lives and others, if they have a reasonable belief that life is under imminent threat.

In certain circumstances- including but not limited to the perception that a suicide bomber is about to detonate his device- that will mean opening fire without giving a warning.

Dan Hardie

Chris- agreed that there were several catastrophic flaws. But I disagree that it's a case of 'which struck first'- catastrophic failure is often a case of multiple flaws reinforcing each other.

Secondly, all flaws are equally important, since any one of them may cause future catastrophes if it's not corrected.

Finally, even once you've agreed that there were multiple flaws, you have to identify which parts of the design were actual flaws and which weren't.

In this specific case, I'd agree with Dsquared that Kratos may well have caused a huge problem if it was part of an operational culture which encouraged Met marksmen to think 'when confronting a suicide bomber, the only solution is to open fire'. I'd also re-emphasise that command and control was utterly rubbish on the day.

That in turn means that the whole procedure almost certainly hadn't been properly trained for, with the senior officers who would have been Gold and Silver commanders actually taking turns to do realistic exercises with the surveillance and firearms teams.

And that in turn suggests Richard is on to something when he says that all this sounds like a plan that somebody wrote and nobody really wanted to take ownership of- which, given that suicide bombing was a real threat, is inexcusable.

Phil

If you see someone with what you believe to be a weapon or detonator posing an imminent threat to life, and you don't think you have time to give a warning, you will shoot.

I didn't dispute that.

Multiple close-range shots to the torso can reasonably be expected to kill the target.

I didn't dispute that, either.

But I continue to think that Kratos made a relevant difference, in that it created the understanding that, in certain circumstances, armed police would be sent out with the intention - emphasised - of shooting to kill without warning.

It's a different thing. To rehash my first comments on this, the point of Kratos was that - once you were in a Kratos scenario - you couldn't aim to do anything less than extinguish life and you couldn't give a warning before shooting. Moreover, you couldn't leave it to the firearms team to judge whether an imminent threat existed: the suspect was posing a threat to life if the intelligence said he was, regardless of what he might look like. Whether or not Stockwell was a by-the-book Kratos operation (or rather, the fact that it plainly wasn't) is less important than the assumptions the policy created about the appropriateness of going straight to lethal force.

It's true that the Met made a much cleaner job of arresting two of the bombers a week later, but I don't think we can discount the effects of lesson-learning after Stockwell. Put it another way - what state would the Met have been in if the man in the tube had been Hussain Osman after all?

Dan Hardie

' I don't think we can discount the effects of lesson-learning after Stockwell.'

Neither do I: it's exactly my point that they learned lessons after Stockwell.

The next interesting question, as I wrote above, is- what lessons did they learn? Ditch Kratos? Or sort out command and control arrangements, and make sure that commanders were familiar with the realities of what they were supposed to be overseeing?

'Whether or not Stockwell was a by-the-book Kratos operation (or rather, the fact that it plainly wasn't) is less important than the assumptions the policy created about the appropriateness of going straight to lethal force.'

As I said above, I think Kratos could have been part of a straight-to-lethal-force culture in the Met, but that would also be influenced by how the firearms teams were trained, led and briefed.

Quite possibly there was such a culture and Kratos was a partial cause of it. But the first thing I'd want to look at would be the command and control structures that led to one security forces team being told they couldn't arrest the suspect they thought probably wasn't a threat to life, while another security forces team was literally racing towards the same suspect in the apparent belief that he was a definite, imminent threat to life.

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