Highly Trained Gunmen?

Last week, when the awful murders in Paris occurred, there was some blather about how this was a ‘military-style’ assault. I guess military-style assault is like kosher-style deli (boldface mine):

Both brothers who carried out the attack against satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo traveled to Yemen via Oman in 2011 and had weapons training in the deserts of Marib, an al Qaeda stronghold, two senior Yemeni sources said on Sunday….

“These two brothers arrived in Oman on July 25, 2011, and from Oman they were smuggled into Yemen where they stayed for two weeks,” a senior Yemeni security official, who declined to be named, said.

“They met (al Qaeda preacher) Anwar al-Awlaki and then they were trained for three days in the deserts of Marib on how to fire a gun. They returned to Oman and they left Oman on Aug. 15, 2011 to go back to France.”

Three days of basic firearms training is hardly advanced military training (U.S. Army basic training is ten weeks and consists of two weeks of combat training). This is not to slander the murdered police officers or to downplay the horrifying attack: that three days of training can result in such murderous lethality shows just how lethal high-powered automatic rifles can be, even in the hands of the relatively untrained.

This has no relevance to the proliferation of such weapons in the U.S.

Though, in a perverse way, it’s probably more comforting to some, for many reasons, to believe these guys were highly-trained supervillians.

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4 Responses to Highly Trained Gunmen?

  1. Ryan says:

    “Three days of basic firearms training is hardly advanced military training (U.S. Army basic training is ten weeks and consists of two weeks of combat training).”

    Sorry, but this is highly misleading. The Marksmanship portion of Army BCT (Basic Combat Training) is only one week (other combat skills are taught in the other week). That’s basically 6 days of training. And, keep in mind, the Marksmanship week includes maintenance and care for the weapon, and you are training to accurately and decisively engage human-sized targets at distances up to (and sometimes exceeding) 300 Meters in a variety of fighting positions.

    If you just wanted to train to fire an AK-47/74 reasonably accurately in close-quarters, like in Paris, you don’t need 3 days. You probably don’t even need one to get the basics down (unless you’re an incredibly dense jihadist), so 3 is really about more target practice, and perhaps some minimal “squad” tactics.

    “…that three days of training can result in such murderous lethality shows just how lethal high-powered automatic rifles can be, even in the hands of the relatively untrained.”

    This part is still, importantly, true even with my correction on the rest of the paragraph.

    • Gingerbaker says:

      I don’t see the whole episode as being about a Milgram experiment, or about racism, or about politics, or about automatic weapons, or about provocation & retaliation. I see it as the outcome of religious privilege. About the blind and hypocritical demand for respect of one’s religious identity – and nobody does this better than the Muslim world.

      Islam demands not only that its own members refrain from using images of Mohammed, but that everyone else refrains from using such images. Do you realize how insanely egotistical and privileged that is?

      Imagine if Charlie Hebdo had a cartoon where Mohammed was was kept in a prison camp, fed food until he was fattened, then had his neck slashed with a knife while fully conscious. Then, he was gutted, sliced into portions, cooked over a fire and eaten by his killers.

      That is exactly what every Hindu sees every time a Muslim eats beef. If radical Hindu elements started slaughtering Muslims eating at McDonalds, do you think there would be liberal bloggers writing about how the Muslims knew very well how their actions were awfully provocative?

  2. onkelbob says:

    The other part of the equation is the sheer ruthlessness – the ability to see the the other person not as a person or even an animal but as a target. Can you shoot a deer or other game target without flinching? It’s difficult. I’ve butchered large animals, and it is always something that makes one pause.
    That was the goal of basic training, to strip away that hesitation, that unwillingness to commit violence against someone for one simple reason, because your superior told you to do it. Unless you start as a sociopath (and it is possible these men were indeed sociopathic) you are always going to hesitate prior to pulling that trigger. And the military doesn’t want sociopaths as soldiers because they rarely follow orders.
    I think this is more of a Milgram experiment gone very wrong.

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