The Hunter Becomes The Hunted
As events in Southern California unfolded Thursday, I was attending a security conference that included - coincidently - an incredibly insightful presentation by the FBI on the expanding phenomena of heavily armed shooters and suicide terrorists.
I became aware of the details driving to the airport Friday morning listeningto the satellite radio, and then catching glimpses on TVs in airport terminals as I made my way home. What struck me were the themes repeated by news people as they discussed the situation: "Military veteran . . . Trained Killer . . . Understands Police Tactics, Techniques and Procedures . . . TTPs . . . Guerrilla Warfare . . . Survivalist . . ."
OK let's look at this thing, take it down by the numbers:
1) Military veteran
Dorner is a Navy Reserve officer - but that could mean anything. Pictures of him posing with an M16A2 tells me he's NOT in a Special Operations unit - just because he's wearing camoflage and web gear equally means nothing. For all we know he was a logistics officer working in a secure compound in Baghdad.
2) Trained Killer
The media is falling back on their familiar theme: RAMBO a.k.a. the crazed psychotic veteran who's training has given him almost superhuman capabilities. Of course they go straight to this; they created this myth way back when in Seventies and never got away from it. Never mind that reality has never matched this fantasy - why let fact get in the way of a tried and true fiction that sells papers and enthralls the minds of the public?
3) Understands Police Tactics, Techniques and Procedures:
It is quite possible that Dorner is familiar with SWAT-type tactics used by police - but the battlefield he has chosen is way out in the open; not the urban environment that LAPD trains for. The concept of laying in ambush does not require a knowledge of police tactics. Equally, a knowledge of police tactics gives no distinct advantage in the mountainous terrain he now finds himself.
4) Guerrilla Warfare.
If Dorner was truly some kind of expert in guerrilla warfare the LAST thing he would have done is let everybody in the world know his identity right at the beginning of his killing spree. If he was truly an evil genius he would have initiated his war on the LAPD and never let them know who's after them.
The media throws this one out that like it's some sort of advantage that Dorner understands survival techniques. As a US Army Special Forces S.E.R.E instructor, I can speak from a position of knowledge and experience. If you have to rely upon survival and evasion training this represents last-ditch effort; you're already WAY behind the eight-ball and the best you can do is hedge your luck. The mountains in the wintertime is an extremely harsh environment; not a lot of food, but a lot of extreme weather conditions.
Dorner's opening act was to let everybody know who he was as he went about assassinating his percieved enemies - not not an effective technique for somebody wanting to conduct a one-man war. Right away everybody in the country knows what he looks like, and he's not exactly the "gray man".
Once he went dynamic, the next thing he did was run for the hills, then ditch his vehicle and make his way on foot in mountainous terrain. Dorner is no Eric Rudolph; he has no support structure up in the hills. An extremely recognizeable 270-pound black man is going to stick out in a ski resort like a - well, any analogy I make is going to be crude and tasteless but I think everybody knows what I mean.
If he was smart, Dorner would have remained anonymous as he racked up the bodies in a historic terror campaign. He would have maintained mobility between several cities, across several states, with standby vehicles to swap out, in parking lots without security camera scrutiny.
If he was smart, that is.
Dorner's actions are not the actions of a cold, calculating criminal genius. Instead, his actions are driven by emotions. Speaking of which, the man has apparently been an emotional basket case all his life. Dorner's manifest is replete with complaints of prejudicial treatment all his life; on school playgrounds, in his law enforcement training, in the Navy. His relationships with women over the last three years apparently all ended in legal actions. In the words of the former LAPD Chief William Bratton, "He (Dorner) could not achieve intimacy (with women)."
I have a hard time believing Dorner's claims about open use of the N-word to his face; but I'm quite sure he believes in his mind that people were talking to him that way. I'm quite certain that he believes that he heard the words.
Dorner is the equivalent of a frustrated kid throwing a tantrum - only in this case, the kid is a 270-pound fully-grown man, well-armed and dangerous.
Where It Goes From Here
Right now a massive manhunt is underway; local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies and quite probably National Guard forces have saturated the area. Tracking teams have fanned out from Dorner's last known location - the burned out truck. Every cabin, hut, outbuilding, highway underpass, bridge and culvert is being searched. Aviation assets with state-of-the-art thermal imaging equipment are flying search patterns.
In the meantime Dorner is getting colder and hungrier.
It's only a matter of time, and the only question is how many more lives will Dorner take, before they finally take him down, or he decides to take himself out, to deny them their kill. There is no question that, given the opportunity, they'le take him down; this thing has gone too far - at this point it's shoot first, ask questions later. I only hope they do a better job of target identification before they open fire the next time.