Aggressive Deadly Behavior Command & Planning: Preparing for the Next Terrorist Attack

February 5, 2015

Boston EMS FBI suspects mumbai Westgate mall

For 72 hours, four attackers carrying AK-47s operating in two teams paralyzed Paris - and by extension - France. The first pair of attackers had one target, the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo. After completing that attack they were free to engage responding personnel and other targets of opportunity. The second team (members of the same sleeper cell) was to pursue a target of opportunity. The attack resulted in 17 dead, 12 injured that required over 80,000 law enforcement, military, and emergency response personnel to bring the attack to conclusion. It was never a question of IF but WHEN in Paris, because the sleeper cell was waiting.

It is similarly not IF but WHEN the next attack will occur in the United States. In 2013 alone there were 15 attacks inside the US associated with Foreign Terrorist Organizations, Homegrown Violent Extremists, and Domestic Extremists.1 Aggressive Deadly Behavior: Command & Planning, delivered on January 21, 2015 took a critical look at recent events from an emergency response perspective. Students analyzed case studies of attacks under the umbrella of Aggressive Deadly Behavior (ADB), such as the 2008 attack in Mumbai, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Kenya. Thirty personnel from Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Services, Community Emergency Response Teams and emergency management attended the training. During a Modified Tabletop Activity, students worked through responding to a symphonic attack modeled after the 2008 Mumbai attack. The course also introduced concepts for integrated response, including warm zones and rescue task force operations. This gave students an additional capability to reach injured and deliver life-saving medical care.

Students were given several command, control, and communication problems to work through as a team. The problems were bigger than just responding to the attack. They consisted of addressing special needs communities, incidents not related to the attack but that still required attention, multijurisdictional command, resource allocation, and dealing with an extended operational cycle. These are all issues commonly identified in incident after action reports but are rarely addressed in training.

All of these course activities focused on the "right-of-boom" activities responders would have to address; but the Planning and Building Resilient Capabilities modules shifted to the "left-of-boom" or actions that responders can take prior to an attack. The Planning module entailed discussing current federal, state and local policies in concert with the students' experiences during the Modified Tabletop Activities. Building Resilient Capabilities took everything one-step further. Students discussed how to design policy, procedures and systems to absorb and recover from terrorist attacks as a whole community, not just as responders.

Aggressive Deadly Behavior: Command & Planning is essential, since it's no longer a question IF the next attack will occur, but WHEN.

1. National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. "Global Terrorism Database." Accessed January 29, 2015.

2. By OpenStreetMapOpenStreetMap contributors [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons Alterations made

3. By Anne Knight [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons Alterations made