I'm back to the new 'hundred years war' about which I wrote below. I suspect that similar events to the Kenya shopping mall attack are likely to increase in their size, their sophistication and their ferocity as time goes on. I hope - well, dammit, a man may hope despite his worst forebodings! - that our politicians are thinking of a long-term strategy. Roger Simon at PJ Media has a stab at it on America's behalf but each country will need to adapt any strategy to suit its own society. Anyway, leaving that to the politicians - do stop sniggering! - I would like to turn to the generals as they strut about, barking constantly about "cracking on!", and dreaming of the day they get their seat in the Lords. Surely one of them is giving detailed thought about training our army to deal, not with foreign foes abroad - that's all over for now - but with foreign fighters here at home.
The attack in Nairobi is as big a warning as you could get that the game has changed. I'm sure the SAS have worked out all the ways of dealing with plane highjacks but that, of course, is yesterday's war at which the generals are notoriously expert! Today, the generals need to know how to deal with what amount to large-scale incursions by heavily armed fighters into the very complex hearts of our society. Not just shopping malls but concert venues, underground rail complexes (that is, not just individual trains but efforts to take over entire junctions below ground), entire airport terminals, underground sewage systems, nuclear power stations, and so on and on. As the Kenyan army is finding out the hard way, clearing a shopping mall of heavily armed fighters whilst trying to preserve the lives of hostages is exceedingly tricky. Our army needs to be thinking how it would deal with these sorts of situations which will be very different from the straightforward fighting tactics used on an open battlefield.
For a start, in my view, whilst a national set of tactics needs to be worked out, the implementation needs to be practiced locally. Today, our army is home-based and units should be investigating potential targets in their areas and working out how they would deal with any incursions. They need to get to know the exact layout of these sites and be in possession of up-to-date architectural drawings and specifications. Instead of training on Salisbury Plain, they should be practicing, when ever and where-ever they can, on the actual sites in the cities in their areas. Just the public knowledge of this sort of pre-planning will give Islamist fighters second thoughts. The SAS can certainly provide advice, expertise and, no doubt, certain sophisticated gadgetry but in these large scale operations the main force will be, as so often before, the 'pbi'! It is essential that they and their senior NCOs and junior officers have the necessary training and familiarity with the target areas.
Is it happening? I'll drop dead with shock if it is!