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Cover Story

Responding to School Sieges

September 01, 2006  |  by John Giduck

Justice from Above

You see a lot of photos in magazines of well-funded, well-equipped SWAT teams like the FBI Hostage Rescue Team fast roping out of helicopters onto the roofs of their objectives. I know that many agencies don't have these kinds of resources but, if you do, train to use them.

Law enforcement is behind the curve in adopting helicopters and employing them in less conventional operations. While some departments do maintain choppers and pilots, few, if any, have ever prepared fast rope teams to be inserted from them, or even an "air assault" landing and insertion capability for their SWAT teams along the lines of that used by the Air Cavalry.

Yes, I know helicopters are dangerous, have an unappealing crash rate, and training in such techniques as rappelling or deploying from them is certain to result in many injuries and not a few deaths. But we are far beyond the point where America can afford to continue making every decision for her survival constrained by a naïve social expectation that nothing bad ever happens to anyone and undertaking anything risky is negligent.

According to some of the Russians, this type of assault would not have worked at Beslan. They feel fast rope teams are "too fancy" and take a lot of training. Commanders repeated concerns that helicopters can be easily shot out of the sky with a single RPG, and that they must be used with a combination of other things and never alone. They feel that at Beslan, after the explosions, the arrival of choppers with deployable soldiers would have been even less effective.

I disagree. Helicopters-though expensive-are a tool that can and should be employed if possible. If in the midst of a battle to rescue hostages, it is determined the helicopters are not beneficial, they do not have to be used for the assault.

One thing is certain, however; helicopters will be a great asset after the assault. They can be used to convey the seriously wounded to area hospitals more quickly than land-based vehicles.

Getting Inside

Getting in position to enter the school is just the first step. Next, you have to get inside.

The terrorists know this, and they will be waiting for you. It's likely that any door to the roof will be wired with explosives, barricaded, or guarded, and an ambush will be prepared for you.

So how do you get in?

You will have to use explosives to breach walls, floors, and roofs for quick entry. Russian special forces units are famous for their "Mouse Hole Charges" that blow holes in walls just large enough for individual operators, fully outfitted in tactical equipment, to move through quickly.

Not only is this an effective way of entering the building, it comes with an added benefit. The explosion itself is sufficient to have an immediate effect on anyone within a small radius. The paralyzing impact of the explosion provides the assault team sufficient time to move operators through the hole and begin engaging the terrorists. When coordinated with simultaneous entry from other points, it is a devastating tactic, and was used with great success in the gym at Beslan.

The Russians are nonplussed that most of American law enforcement has, at best, weak charges that can perhaps breach a door lock. They correctly point out that terrorists will always have the existing points of ingress under surveillance. Windows will also be watched, and both windows and doors will likely be wired with explosives. Wall breaching charges will be essential to your response to a school siege. Do what you can to convince your local civilian oversight that you need this tool in your box. It's better to have it and never need it than to not have it when kids' lives are on the line.

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Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

Tom @ 1/19/2012 11:30 AM

John Giduck is a fraud and a liar. He is not a Green Beret and he is not a US Army Ranger. He's a poser and a liar.

Editor @ 1/22/2012 7:10 PM

Police Magazine has never reported that John Giduck is anything other than a student of Russian martial arts, author of "Terror at Beslan," and President of the consultancy firm Archangel. Any other claims that Mr. Giduck has made or hasn't made about his background are between him and the Special Forces community. I have immense respect for the Special Forces community, but since Police Magazine has never been part of this discussion, I would ask that you leave us out of it. For the record, I have not during any interview or presentation by Mr. Giduck, heard him claim that he had any affiliation with any U.S. military unit. If he has misrepresented himself as such, he has not done so in Police. Thank you for your service. David

Agent Orange @ 2/2/2012 7:23 PM

It may be of particular interest to the Law Enforcement community that John Giduck vacationed with Donna Yaklich, the killer of a Pueblo narcotics detective (her husband), while she was being investigated for the murder, and was his client.

GirlCop @ 2/10/2012 6:12 AM

As an officer, I'm wondering why Police magazine has to resort to authors with no apparent real-world experience. Even in 2006, there were PLENTY of people around with actual time on the ground, both in LE and the military, with actual experience--why resort to hosting articles by someone without any?

Editor @ 2/12/2012 7:50 AM

Girlcop: I first saw John Giduck's book "Terror at Beslan" in the hands of a high-ranking DHS official. It was widely read and widely praised by DHS officers, federal agents, and others on the front lines of the anti-terror war of the last decade. He was also the nation's leading consultant on school terrorism at the time, speaking to agencies at the federal, state, and local level. No one in the U.S. law enforcement or the U.S. military (to my knowledge) has "time on the ground" experience with an incident like Beslan. Giduck, regardless of whatever else he may or may not have done, is a compelling writer and speaker on the subject of school terrorism. I see nothing to change the basic truth of his message that an America school may well be the target of another Beslan-type massacre conducted by Islamist terrorists. Other leading terrorism writers and consultants agree with him that America is ill-equipped for a Beslan type attack, very vulnerable to one, and that Islamist terrorists love to target children. Note: The most devastating recent terror attack on Israel was a wire-guided missile attack on a school bus. The children on that bus were deliberately targeted. Fortunately, the driver had just stopped and let off some kids so only a few were killed. But the truth remains that our enemy loves to kill children and Giduck's concerns in this area and his analysis of Beslan and possible future school attacks is sound, regardless of what he may or may not have done since.

Crackie @ 2/25/2012 3:23 PM

Is there some reason that you erased the comments about the counterintelligence concerns of cleared Homeland Security officials sharing information with Mr. Giduck (given that he openly boasts of his high level Russian Intelligence contacts)?

Or that there is well founded concerns in the police about Mr. Giduck's tactical analysis of both Beslan and Virgina Tech ( Google David S. Cariens "More Shooter Down" article)

or is it that I questioned's complete softball approach to accepting what is essentially PR materials from Mr. Giduck without any sort of critical thinking thereby putting police officers at risk on the street?

R. Chapurina @ 4/22/2012 1:04 PM

Look at all the factual errors that John Giduck made in only one of his chapters of Terror at Beslan:

Why is this researcher of school attacks making so many errors?!?

Not to mention that he is now listed at the POW Network as a poser.

J. D. @ 8/5/2012 11:07 AM

Some highlights of John Giducks tactical recommendations to Law Enforcement:

Shoot downed suspects in the head. Twice. Because murdering suspects is OK, as long as they're suspected of being terrorists.

Exempt LEOs from the Constitution in the event of a terrorist attack. Because committing terrorist acts calls for more terrorist acts.

Use fire hoses to counter-attack fortified positions, IEDs, and belt-fed machine guns. Because water causes terrorists and their tools to melt, you know.

Equip every school with a three-man tactical team composed of former SOF personnel, armed with automatic weapons and full battle-rattle. Do the math.

Install poison gas systems in every school in order to render everyone unconscious in the event of a terrorist attack. This will only kill some of the children.

Shoot through hostage children in order to save them. It's for their own good.

Yea, this is the guy I want teaching tactics to my officers. What I'd like to know is how this guy Giduck got away with this sham for so long.

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