The Huge Difference Between Law Enforcement and the Armed Forces

“The wise man takes the fight to the enemy. The foolish man allows the enemy to bring the fight to one’s doorstep.”

Our borders are porous and the enemy law enforcementis bringing the fight to us. All the MRAPs in the world won’t stop an enemy that has numbers on its side. Truly closing the borders, however, as Governor Rick Perry is attempting to do, will severely crimp their style.

Law enforcement agencies are getting a lot of equipment with little or no training on how to use it. As any military aviator can well attest, C-130 aviators spend about four months (17 weeks) learning the basics of how to fly the mighty Herk, but at least a year learning and integrating the various tactics, techniques and procedures it takes in order to become proficientlaw enforcement in combat — and that’s just the beginning. Continuing education never ends.  The reason they call it a profession of arms is because it’s not an occupation. It’s something you study throughout your entire career, for the cost of failure is exceptionally high. Law enforcement is also a profession, for much the same reason. The local police academy, for example, is one of the best, and candidates spend 24 weeks learning their profession, along with another year on the job as a rookie finishing their training. The actual overlap in tactics, techniques, and procedures between the two professions, however, is quite small.

Law enforcement academies may actually teach the 9 principles war: mass, objective, offensive, surprise, economy of force, maneuver, law enforcementunity of command, security, and simplicity. Expecting law enforcement to be able to skillfully apply these principles in the urban warfare environment, however, is a bit like asking your average member of the military to skillfully conduct day to day police patrol and investigative operations while remaining within the law. We just aren’t trained for it, just like they’re not trained for urban warfare.

There’s a reason each branch of the Armed Forces has its own military police force. They have police training. We don’t. Similarly, when it comes to urban warfare, which is what you’ll have if a thousand angry Muslims descend on Anytown, USA, local law enforcement just aren’t trained to handle it, no matter how many MRAPs they’ve been given. Individual encounters, small crowds, even mobs and riots, yes. Coordinated attacks conducted en masse, military style, by trained professionals, heck no, They’d put up a good fight, but they’d lose, even in MRAPs.

It all has to do with John Boyd’s OODA Loop.

“The phrase OODA loop refers to the decision cycle of observe, orient, decide, and act, developed by military strategist and USAF Colonel John Boyd. Boyd applied the concept to the combat operations process, often at the strategic level in military operations. It is now also often applied to understand commercial operations and learning processes.”

The underlying issue is that military and law enforcement differ in several key respects, not merely training.  Their “implicit guidance and control” comes from two seriously different schools of thought. law enforcement What and how they observe in any given environment will differ because they’re observing through two different filters:  training and experience.  That’s just the observation phase.  Three of the five components in the Orient phase will be different.  Their differing implicit guidance and control in the Decision phase will differ as well, and finally, their authorized actions in the Act phase will be different, too.

My point is that military equipment isn’t the answer. If anything, without the proper training, it’s likely to lead those who use it into a dangerous and false sense of security, if not a less civic mindset.  Training alone, however, doesn’t begin to address the serious differences between these two groups.  Guidance and control are different, as are heritage, cultures, experiences, decisions, and actions.

Cops are not military.  Military are not cops.  You can dress them up the same, but beneath the helmets, body armor, uniforms, and skin, they’re seriously different entities.

Besides, and on a closing note, why spend five times as much on training as the equipment when you can just call in the National Guard, who not only has the proper training, but many of whom have the requisite experience, as well?