World-wide terrorism slipped across the ocean.

America faces a faceless enemy; an enemy in plain sight if you will.

The questions: Are we at ‘war’ or ‘not at war’ are technical, legal and mute.  The enemy has declared war on us whether we want to believe it or not.  There is a small, semi-organized faction of people using terror as its main tool to either get their message publicized or go ‘all in’ and force a regimen change.

While regimen change in America is far too ambitious and unachievable, changing our way of life and increasing security costs is well within the terrorists’ capability.

This is a slow burn.

For civilians and some military personal, to fully comprehend the words of war, I believe you first need to understand the tools of terror.  Most war related books have a glossary of terms, which I feel is inconvenient and inadequate for the reader with a minimal military background.  A 10 or 12 word sentence describing an Improvised Explosive Device or the AK-47 rifle is not enough and too sterile to truly understand the language used in war stories as it relates to the people who use the weapons and those who are the targets of such weaponry.

I will explain the tools of terror as simply as I can, avoid using jargon and getting too technical.  I will add my personal analysis and experience when I can, in describing an enemy weapons system, its employment and its lethal effects.

Readers need to know upfront what many soldiers and civilians face on a daily basis in any war zone. The tools of terror in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan [or anywhere ISIS/AQ decides to strike] are not that much different than in Viet Nam or the Balkans.

The single greatest and most lethal tool of terror is the insurgents or terrorists themselves.  Their ability to remotely recruit and organize; their collective combat experience, their ruthless application of violence against their stated enemies, their own willingness to travel from other countries to fight the ‘Great Satan’ and die for a greater cause: Islamic Jihad and martyrdom, their creativity of ‘making do’ with whatever limited resources available, their ability to live off the near barren land and mountainous regions with little more then rice, bread, tea, sandals, a moth-eaten woolen blanket and an old AK-47, their ability to plan and execute complex combat operations with a technologically primitive and unsecured communications system [though this is improving with computer encryption software], their grit and determination to keep on fighting no matter how many casualties sustained or how large of a force they face.

I often wonder why the Afghan and Iraqi army and police do not fight the insurgents with the same tenacity, conviction and determination as the insurgents.            

The video camera is perhaps one of the most under appreciated and important lethal or non-lethal weapon systems on the modern battlefield used against US and Coalition forces during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or any modern insurgency or terror campaign.  The two attackers in San Bernardino [December, 2015], CA had body cams in order to show the world their success; fortunately, those video clips will never be posted.  If you do not believe me, after reading my ‘Google’ or ‘Bing’ “IED attacks, Iraq” or any other war zone and see how many video clips there are taken from the insurgent point of view, with Arabic music, Koranic verses and Arabic subtitles scrolling left to right.  Insurgent and terrorist combat video clips are used for propaganda showing the world how weak the US et al are.  Televised on pro- Jihad television stations as well as posted on the internet and social media outlets, video clips are a useful tool for recruiting and motivating Jihadist, showing their supporters Americans can be defeated and to  recognize the Jihadist sacrifices and martyrdom.

Insurgent video clips serve as a warning to the American, Coalition, European, Afghan and Iraqi security forces or any nation fighting a war on terror, of what awaits them while driving or patrolling on the roads, cities and towns of Afghanistan or Iraq and now it  seems Syria and Europe as well,  death or dismemberment, neither a great option.  This does strike fear in the hearts of convoy personnel- drivers, gunners and convoy commanders.

From a military or counter-terrorist perspective, videoing an ambush gives the insurgents intel as well as training material.  The video captures how the US and Coalition reacted to the ambush as well as their own insurgents’ actions.  The videos can be used for insurgent ‘after action reviews’ in order to improve their tactics, techniques and procedures.

The insurgents are far from stupid and readily adapt to the current battlefield requirements.

            Social media is the terrorist’s main PR weapon.  For most of us, PR means ‘public relations’; for the terrorists, PR takes on a different meaning:  ‘publicity and recruitment’.

Via social media such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, terrorist are able to publicize their successes, showing the world what they can do and that no government can stop them.  Social media is a platform that allows the insurgents and terrorists to reach and inspire a world-wide audience.  No need for terrorists to recruit from their own limited area or country, the world is now their ‘talent’ pool.  With minimal social media training; and next to no costs, with very little chance of getting caught, social media can reach ‘disenfranchised’ youth and young adults anywhere at any-time.   Let me be clear, ‘disenfranchisement’ does not mean poor or uneducated, the 9-11 attackers as well as the two San Bernardino terrorists were well educated and at least middle class.  This also allows for small inspired ‘cells’ to develop, grow and eventually act on their own.  The mission continues, with less risk to its ‘main leaders’; truly creating a web-like network.

The key lesson is if you are ground convoying or foot patrolling during a deployment and see an Iraqi, Syrian or Afghan with a video camera, and there is no wedding party going by, you can expect to be ambushed.

In America or other developed country, video cameras are everywhere, so good luck with your situational awareness.

During war, the tools of terror are numerous, deadly and limited only by insurgent creativity.  As the US and its allies upgrade equipment; modify pre-deployment training, enhance electronic counter measures; improve body armor and change tactics, techniques and procedures to increase survivability, the insurgents figure out a way to defeat the upgrades; usually by adding more explosives to the IEDs.

As the saying goes: “insurgents have to get lucky only once, we have to get lucky every time.”